March 31, 2004
The Written Protocol: The record of the experience of community organizations
By F. Grosman for JCCenters.org
The written protocol is the formal presentation of that which has happened or has not. It is a tool that guarantees the historical memory of the daily happenings of the organization. Many of the agreements, projects and planning on which we decide, we do without an exact record of what has been defined: this can give rise to misunderstandings. The latter are easily avoided if we accustom ourselves to “distrust” communication as an “objective” fact; we are subject to how to interpret things; our memory or forgetfulness can play us tricks.
Written reports should:
Answer basic questions such as: who, what, when, where, why
Contain facts and not judgments (save those which are explicit as such)
Be brief, precise and complete
Be self-explanatory such that they can be read by other persons without further clarification
Guide future decision-making Sammy prepares himself to begin his day at the local JCC. He consults his agenda and adds certain items to his day’s tasks; ideas which occurred to him along the way and which he would hate “to let get away.” On the way to the office he stops to read the billboard. Today there will be a movie and a roundtable in the library; he wishes to assure himself that the announced hour is that which was agreed upon the at last meeting of the team, after much coming and going and differences of opinion. His assistant brings him the list of those who confirmed their attendance by e-mail or fax. There was a good gathering. Now is the time to go over the evaluation sheet which will be given to the attendees, if they so wish, in order to finalize said activity. The evaluations from the previous cycle of movie-roundtables guided the planning of this occasion.
Today Michael has a meeting with a team formed for the winter majane (camp)
with the purpose of establishing the central theme for the camp. He proposes a brainstorming exercise. Immediately thereafter, everyone begins suggesting themes, which he notes down. Then they go over the list of the proposals, thinking about advantages and disadvantages of each of the themes, which are considered viable. Forty minutes later three are considered finalists. The rest will be saved to be brought up in the planning of the summer camp.
In two days Ruth will replace the instructor of Rikudei-am (Israeli folk dances)
. Before establishing which dances will work for the students, she goes over the file of the planning records of Gabriela, the chief instructor. Planning this class on the basis of the records is quite easy for her.A few days before we celebrated the Iamim Noraim ; three communities from the northern area of the city united efforts to organize the joint celebration of the High Holy Days. Among many such activities, a group of volunteers rented a locale larger enough to easily accommodate those who wished to attend; the spiritual leaders formed a liturgical team comprising the three organizations. Now is the moment for a balance sheet of that which was undertaken and the Organizing Committee passes around a documents among the participants in the activities of the three kehilot (communities) ; therein they share their points of view as to the successes – to be repeated – and the failures – on which follow-up work must be done—and invite the participants to state their ideas and contribute to volunteer work to continue along the road of integration in this year 5764 The use of the written word in diverse forms is recurring and holds great value in each of the activities in the life of community institutions
We write to remember…
It is more what we think than what we are able to arrive at reflecting on the written word; many ideas or part thereof come to us on the way from the mind to the paper. Nevertheless, we lose more if we don’t shape together anything. Writing down aids us to recover “forgotten” ideas.
We write to put our ideas in order…
The act of writing starts the process of structuring the flow of ideas. We don’t think alike if we shape our thoughts in writing. If we write as we think; the process of committing to paper modifies our ideas.
We write to interchange ideas…
When our interest is in knowing the point of view of others in order to enrich our proposals or to gain backing to make others participate in certain experiences, to distribute written documents –through various media such as e-mail, fax, traditional mailings – we can reach a forehand and further a greater quantity of people.
We write in order to enrich our contacts..
We don’t always encounter the most constructive manner or the courage to communicate face to face what we want to express although our intention is really to build. Using it as a means, the written communication normally facilitates those processes so that we don’t leave lacunae where there should be words .
We write down the projects we wish to implement, we write down the activities which we carry out, we write up evaluation sheets for each activity, we write down agreements between the contracting parties for the record.
All that is written in its differing forms brings together the collective experience of a community and facilitates the learning process. To record the experience of organizations and of the people forming part thereof helps us to learn about the experience itself.