Thu 5 Mar 2015 10:15AM

Funny thing happened yesterday at our face to face meeting...

D Denjello Public Seen by 49

I am documenting our organizational experience with integrating loomio at this thread. At the moment we have about 50 people enrolled in our loomio, and they seem to like it.

One week ago at our weekly meeting we found a topic that was pretty binary: Redesign the entrance to our nightclub or keep it the way that it had been for over 60 years. Our architect provided both versions, and there was a 50/50 split in the meeting. So I created a discussion on our loomio and proposed a decision with a 7-day duration (because it should be finished just before our meeting this week).

At first the opinion was against the redesign, but as images and discussion began to pepper the thread, opinion began to sway toward the redesign.

And then 6 hours before the end of the discussion another option appeared - which found even more resonance - but changed the nature of the decision into one that was no longer yes / no and on that was now ternary. This had the additional side-effect of invalidating the original votes and making everyone a bit uncertain.

Unfortunately, at the meeting yesterday at least a dozen of the people that had already voted in loomio were not present and we did not feel comfortable making a new vote without their participation. One way that was proposed to solve this problem using loomio was to create three discussions, but the participants were concerned that it would be too much work and not transparent enough. Another decision was to use the color codes of the decisions to mean 1,2,3 or block. But ultimately it was decided to repurpose a meeting scheduler at doodle.com and let everyone vote once for option 1, 2 or 3.

For us this has several consequences:

  1. We now accept loomio as a valid decision making tool for yes / no proposals
  2. We realize that our loomio discussions & decisions can have the same (or similar) results as face-to-face meetings
  3. We need to come up with a strategy for integrating finalized decisions into our extant decision-making structure
  4. We need to look into alternatives for complex decisions where the options are not binary.

Olover Thu 5 Mar 2015 6:35PM

Interesting! Sounds like the issue here is simply the deadline you had given yourselves.

Once you find a third option that can have more support, you can just close the previous proposal and have people vote on the third option that emerged. This would take some additional time, but I don't think it's wasted. I think part of using Loomio is realizing that the advantages of geographical dispersion and asynchronicity are counterbalanced by the written discussion (reading and writing) and click-voting that are usually much quicker in their in-person versions.

I think the real issue you are dealing with here is a shift from majority voting to consensus-building, which takes more time and requires more iterations. I think that what is remarkable is that you were able to have discussions so productive over Loomio that they enabled you to come up with a third option that would have more support than either of the previous two.

I know that the written nature of Loomio also gives its discussions and proposals the impression of being more solid/unchanging than they really are meant to be - so part of it may also be to reframe what kind of tool Loomio is in our minds.

I do think, though, that that would be easier if there were more real-time ways to interact with people on Loomio. Another idea could be to make Loomio more flexible and akin to real life by better integrating it with other tools such as Doodle polls, since my understanding is that the Loomio team does not want to go into having multiple-choice proposals because similar tools already exist for that. So the idea would be to allow for the inevitable result of good discussions (emergent third options) while still leveraging the core of what Loomio does best (building consensus around yes/no proposals). Another way to look at this is the question of iterations. If you know you are going through a series of iterative proposals, you may be more open to the first proposal leaving space for a second and third proposal as the discussion progresses. This can be made more visible in the UI of Loomio.

Just some thoughts.


Chelsea Robinson Thu 5 Mar 2015 7:02PM

I love your story! Real examples are so tangled and challenging. Loved hearing that you used doodle! Our team is actually just drafting a piece of writing & some illustrations to explain good ways of integrating loomio into a flow of in-person meetings. We'll post it here whe its ready for feedback!


Denjello Fri 6 Mar 2015 10:08PM

As a postscript, the decision via doodle was also completely undecided.


Greg Cassel Sat 7 Mar 2015 6:23AM

I agree with @olover 's excellent description of how consensus building can progress effectively through iterative proposals. As noted, time can be a factor. Also, some decisions just don't IMO lend themselves well to a progression of binary decisions. (For instance, what if there are three or more really compelling ideas on how to redesign the nightclub entrance?)

One can use a ranked voting system to select one or more idea from a larger number of reasonable alternatives. However, in cases of good faith deliberative decision-making, I think that a modified form of collaborative budgeting or dot voting, perhaps using Cobudget, holds immense potential. Cobudget is significantly related to Loomio through Enspiral. I think that one or more of the Cobudget developers are looking at its uses beyond finance per se, but I don't know the details yet.

@chelsearobinson I'm not aware of you being involved with Cobudget but I'm really interested in your thoughts on dot voting etcetera. :)