Reviewing the mandate system

The context

There is a mandate system in place a Hoathly Hill: a mandate holder is appointed by the ‘community’ in a meeting to take on a specific area of responsibility. They are given the mandate to take decisions on behalf of the community and are expected to consult either their reference group or the whole community in certain cases. Presently the mandate system works well for small practical decisions and when there is an extensive consultation process, however mandate holders and/or their decisions can sometimes be ignored. Also the key principles of the system are often not put into practice, such as presenting terms of reference, presenting yearly review, consulting the community, following up on decisions, handing over the mandate at the end of the maximum of three years of holding.

Design rationale

As this is a system that is already in place and valued in theory, the design would be based on action learning theory to improve practice. It will be a community process of three meetings to gather information, evaluate the current situation, renew the vision increasing understanding and thereby encouraging better practice and more engagement with the mandate system.


  • create a safe learning space which encourages and appreciates diverse perspectives, openness and participation
  • make observations of the mandate systems as it using diverse methods, such as reviews, storytelling, drawing, movement, different perspectives especially head, heart and hands of the mandate system
  • use action learning as a framework for review and reflection, learning and planning
  • encourage the creation of different learning spaces, such as action learning sets, study circles, world cafe

Implementation plan

  • convene a meeting in the autumn to propose an exploration of the mandate system
  • assuming this is wanted, begin a series of three meetings based upon action learning
  • create a template for the yearly review of mandates working with the community meeting mandate group
  • create ┬ábrochure on the mandate system at Hoathly Hill for new members and interested people

Maintenance plan

  • create different learning spaces on the mandate system and other aspects of community life


A series of three meetings were held in November and December 2013 reviewing the mandate system in the community meeting.

reviewing the mandate system 2013

Two templates were drafted to aid mandate holders in their yearly reviews.



A brochure describing the mandate system was created for new members and people interested in the mandate system

brochure web


Design process

  • the design process was quite efficient drawing on the community life pathway design work and experience of the two previous reviews done in the community (community meeting review and Hoathly Hill Trust review)
  • for me it was challenging to integrate more creative ways of reviewing into the process due my lack of experience facilitating such activities as well as a reluctance on my part to put a lot of time into the review
  • next time, I would aim to work collaboratively with community members with experience in facilitating different review processes, such as Way of Council or artistic processes

The process itself

  • the meetings were relaxed and remained focused
  • tools of a flip chart with questions as well as a written summary of the theory of the mandate system worked well
  • maintaining a positive attitude towards the mandate system and valuing the contributions of the group helped the process
  • one meeting was held in someone’s house, which was much more relaxed and friendly, though still focused, than in the community building normally used
  • clarity about the limit of three meetings and a visible positive outcome from the meetings, ie a brochure, gave a sense of completion and achievement and possibly inspired other community members to engage more positively with the mandate system