Consultants: Create a Safe Space for All Voices on Loomio

• Written by MJ Kaplan

For Julie DiBari, inclusive decision-making is personal as well as professional. “In 21 years in the foster care system, I was never once asked what I thought works,” she says. Now, as a consultant, Julie supports diverse stakeholders to contribute to decisions that affect them, and to collaborate on solving complex problems.

Julie incorporates Loomio into her work as founder and CEO of The Capacity Group, a consultancy based in Rhode Island that focuses on strategic planning and measurement and evaluation.

julie2.jpegWhen people convene in person, power dynamics and personality differences can inhibit some people from contributing. Often, clients do not feel comfortable speaking up in a room that includes board members, executives, and program staff. Introverts hesitate, preferring time to process new information.

“I’ve definitely had a lot of experience with people who don’t speak up in the room and who are very vocal on Loomio.”

On Loomio, people can consider what they want to say, and put it in writing at a time that works for them. Time is a main way Loomio adds value for the Capacity Group’s clients. It's challenging to bring together disparate groups with different schedules.

“I really appreciate that Loomio allows people the opportunity to plug in on their own time rather than have to be in person at a meeting. People can engage in the ways that are most comfortable for them.”

Now that Julie and her team have gained experience using Loomio, they incorporate it into many client projects, such as a strategic planning process for a domestic violence agency. Loomio allowed deeper dialogue, with all the materials attached to the discussions. It meant the group could hit the ground running at the second retreat.

“After an initial meeting where we shared research with the group, people used Loomio for richer discussions. It gave people more time to process the data.”

Julie says it’s important to explain to clients ahead of time why you’re including Loomio and how it will support a more inclusive and transparent process. She makes sure to send detailed instructions about how to get started, so onboarding is smooth.

“Think about how you can integrate it into you existing process. Start small.”

After a year, Julie is now using Loomio with most of her clients, and wholeheartedly recommends it to other change management consultants.

Want to do inclusive decision-making? Try Loomio!

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