Fri 28 Jul 2017 11:58AM

Clarification of CoTech decision-making process

JMF James Mead (Go Free Range) Public Seen by 74

In the outcome of the “Allow GreenNet to join CoTech” thread Chris Lowis highlighted a lack of clarity in what rules rules apply to Loomio proposals in terms of voting basis (majority, unanimity, something else?) and quorum.

In the outcome of the “Reconfigure Loomio to allow CoTech to make decisions” thread it was agreed that voting should be on a one-coop-one-vote basis and the welcome page was updated to include the following text:

> If you are a member of a CoTech network co-operative you can participate in discussions and decisions here on Loomio. Voting on proposals is on the basis of one-coop-one-vote, so before voting on an issue, discuss internally and then make it clear when you vote that you are voting on behalf of your co-operative.

I’d like us to clarify what voting basis and quorum should be used for decision-making for the CoTech network. I plan to add a proposal to start the ball rolling.


Poll Created Fri 28 Jul 2017 11:59AM

Consensus decision-making, no quorum Closed Fri 4 Aug 2017 12:02PM

  • Voting basis: consensus, i.e. no “block” votes. Note that Loomio “disagree” votes are intended to mean you don’t agree, but you can live with the proposal).

  • Quorum: no minimum, but at least 1 week between the creation of a proposal and the closing date.


Results Option % of points Voters
Agree 50.0% 2 CR A
Abstain 0.0% 0  
Disagree 50.0% 2 G SG
Block 0.0% 0  

4 of 97 people have voted (4%)


Fri 28 Jul 2017 12:15PM

Seems the fairest way to proceed. Question: What Co-Tech activities/decisions go through this process? Everything?


Simon Grant
Fri 28 Jul 2017 7:33PM

(for Cetis LLP) This simply isn't yet a proposal for a consensus decision making process. It would be great to see one.


Simon Grant
Wed 2 Aug 2017 12:32PM

(for Cetis LLP) Quick mod to reason: this is fine as the end of the process, but sorely needs complementing with reasoned consensus process.


Wed 2 Aug 2017 1:14PM

(For MC3) No quorum damages democracy. Consensus demands quality dialogue prior to a firm proposal.


James Mead (Go Free Range) Fri 28 Jul 2017 1:20PM


Question: What Co-Tech activities/decisions go through this process? Everything?

I'd suggest that this is the default process for all decisions. I think it would be fine for someone to specify a different process upfront for a specific proposal, but useful to have some kind of well-known default process so we don't have to think about it every time.


Simon Grant Fri 28 Jul 2017 1:35PM

Could we perhaps please ask the question, how is consensus built in CoTech? The point, to me, of Loomio's response options is to surface disagreement and enable constructive alternatives to be formulated that more closely express the best agreement that is practical...


AndyrCroft Fri 28 Jul 2017 3:17PM

Yep - sounds good to me. Thanks for raising what I think is a very important issue and will be come increasingly so as CoTech grows both in size and sophistication.


Sion Whellens (Principle Six/Calverts) Fri 28 Jul 2017 7:07PM

Not sure about the 'no block' - although there should be clarity about its meaning: I think a block should only be cast if a coop feels the proposal to be so clearly antithetical to CoTech's ethos or policies that they would feel they would have to leave if it went through. Usually it would trigger some kind of deeper review/discussion or attempt to win the blocker over to oppose/abstain. I don't think you can have consensus without the possibility of a block.


Simon Grant Fri 28 Jul 2017 7:45PM

I need to qualify my earlier response by saying thanks to Sion for implying that we need to discuss this further. I hear you talking about consensus, not just voting.


Simon Grant Fri 28 Jul 2017 7:31PM

I still seem to be reading about a voting system, when I would like to be reading about a consensus decision-making system. If the rules are that a proposal with no blocks goes ahead, together with the sense that a block should mean "I'll leave if this goes through", that leaves a minefield of proposals that could legitimately be accepted even if a majority disagreed, which makes no sense in my view of consensus.

For comparison, Loomio suggests that blocks mean "Block means you’ve got serious objections and you’ll be extremely unhappy if this proposal goes ahead." not that you would leave.

I know there is much diverse practice on this question of stating one's consensus position, and we have to work out something that suits this particular group of people. All I can say at this stage is that, if the intention is some kind of consensus, a voting system makes no sense outside the scope of a discussion of the wider consensus process.

Our co-op, Cetis LLP has been running fine on a simpler consensus basis of agree / stand aside / block, for 10 members so far. For quite a different perspective, I am centrally involved in discussing the consensus process in our Cohousing community of over 60 members, where maybe half turn up to General Meetings to make decisions. This is far, far more challenging. And that's where we can see each other face to face, which certainly helps.

I would suggest a much deeper and more thorough exploration of consensus decision making. It means far more than "no blocks".


Simon Grant Sun 30 Jul 2017 10:53PM

I guess there isn't yet the shared understanding and experience that is needed for people to arrive at a meaningful consensus on this. And it does, clearly, affect everyone, not like a matter for one technical discussion.

So I wonder if it would be a good idea to have a video conference about this? I suspect this would turn something that will take for ever into something manageable that can be agreed within a reasonable time.

To start with, maybe we could agree the principles behind consensus decision making? To me, this is at least both for better quality decisions, and for maintaining the group cohesion and general good relationships, with a clear sense of collective ownership of the decisions made, and the avoidance of factions where possible.

Then, the four different responses mean different things in virtue of what happens as a result. If it is accepted that people only respond "disagree" where they are personally negatively affected, and they are willing to contribute to a better proposal, then the default could well be that the proposal goes into a revision or reframing stage. It's not failing, it's under development or improvement. "Block" could be reserved for cases where someone sees the proposal not only as damaging, but also as not able to be revised into something acceptable. The blocker should, of course, explain why.

If it is vital, for some reason, that some proposal goes ahead, then there needs to be a way of resolving the matter despite "disagree" positions, but only after serious attempts at resolving the disagreement have been made. To go ahead with a proposal with a "disagree", without properly hearing out the views of the person disagreeing (and them having the sense that they are properly heard) is a recipe for resentment and eventual division. That's the valuable message of "disagree" -- it means that the person needs to be heard and understood. When they are heard and understood, there is a much better chance of moving towards a fuller consensus.

In these kinds of ways, the consensus process needs to be spelled out and agreed, so that it is much more than the rules governing counting "votes" to see which proposal "passes". Voting, by itself, does not mean that the voter is heard or understood, or is able to contribute to a fuller consensus.

Apologies for the length of this -- I have much clearer views since I have seen this kind of consensus process, and its potential pitfalls, in action.


Chris Roos Tue 1 Aug 2017 2:09PM

Hi Simon,

To reiterate the purpose of this proposal: we didn't know how to interpret the results of GreenNet's membership application and would like to avoid/reduce that uncertainty. We've suggested a simple set of rules that should allow us to interpret proposal results in future. It might be useful to clarify that GreenNet's membership request would have been approved if interpreted using these rules (8 agree, 2 abstain and 3 disagree).

We're not wedded to the set of rules proposed but think it's important to have something. Can you imagine us adopting something like this for now (maybe you can propose an alternative?) and evolving it over time to get to the sort of consensus decision making system you describe?



Simon Grant Wed 2 Aug 2017 8:46AM

Hi Chris @chrisroos

(Apologies to anyone for whom what I write seems obvious — I hope you will excuse my sense that this would benefit from being surfaced.)

I'm guessing that you're feeling uncertainty about how decisions get made within the CoTech community, and you need some clarity; the strategy that is being proposed is that we have a formula for translating people's Loomio responses into a decision. You haven't expressed an opinion on this yet, as far as I can see.

Well, in my experience, as well as what I hear and read elsewhere, there are two positive values that sometimes appear to be in tension. One of these values is associated with the words simple, easy, quick, efficient — wanting a process by which people can get on with life, with business, with their day. The other value I sense here is the value that is expressed with words such as solidarity, harmony, friendliness, agreement, and indeed consensus.

To me, this a genuine and valid tension — there is no magic solution. Too much emphasis on consensus, and decisions are not made, leading to frustration and one kind of break-up. Too much emphasis on speed and simplicity and decisions are made that upset some people, lead to them feeling unheard, and risks break-up in a different way.

One way of approaching this tension is to set out a scale of response that allows people some way of expressing a level of unhappiness. This is what Loomio's system allows — so people don't just say "yes" or "no", but there is a position – blocking – which allows people to express major difficulties with a proposal.

And this is fine, as far as it goes. Everyone I know recognises that in practice, to make organisations work, most people sometime have to accept decisions that they personally disagree with. This is expressed through Loomio in the distinction between "disagree" and "block". So it's fine — the proposal is fine — as the last stage of decision making.

My whole point here is that, especially in an online community where people don't get to see each other face to face, this is only the end point. A good consensus decision making system, to my mind, is one which uses the decision making process as one of the tools to surface opinions and to hear people's feelings as well as their rational judgements. A good consensus decision is one that results in decisions that people are as comfortable with as they can be, thus increasing, rather than reducing, both the sense of ownership of the decisions, and the sense of membership and identity in the group.

When a decision is made prematurely, the decision could easily have missed an alternative that people would be happier with. And this is, to me, the missing part of the jigsaw, without which we don't have a consensus decision making process, but just – well – a more sophisticated voting system.

What I think would work well enough is some kind of agreement about minimum standards for offering people who express a "disagree" a chance to be heard and understood, and for their points, their opinions, their feelings as well, to be taken into account. (Naturally, that doesn't have to mean "complied with"!)

I don't know of any perfect formulation of this, by the way. Probably many people are working on it. But as I'm writing, I could suggest some ideas towards a possible formulation. For me, a consensus decision — perhaps following this proposal — is valid when every person who expresses disagreement has been properly heard and understood in the way that they would like to be understood. The only way to be sure of this is to reflect back to those who disagree, and wait for them to confirm that they have been heard. I'm not sure of exactly how this works in an online forum, but we should be able to do that somehow. And, perhaps, that some reasonable effort has been made to use that understanding to formulate an alternative proposal that would be more agreeable all round. This might not work, of course — but the fact that is has been done is likely to keep the people who disagree "on board". That's what matters in a voluntary association.

Sorry about the length, it was flowing... :smiley:



Harry "Outlandish" Robbins Wed 2 Aug 2017 10:46AM

Thanks for doing another great proposal @chrisroos - I agree it would be good to firm up decision making. We're also really keen to sort out the framework agreement as we've put collaborations on hold until we have more clarity on that.

I believe we're going to host a London-based CoTech meetup in the not-too-distant where we can hopefully progress things a bit and come back with some more fleshed out proposals.

Would anyone be up for hosting a similar event in the north and or scotland? @louisescott ?@asimong ? @edrussell ?


Simon Grant Wed 2 Aug 2017 10:53AM

Hi @harryrobbins -- I would really appreciate some response or reference to what I have written above, which would meet my need to be heard (and on a good day with a fair wind, understood :wink: ) Would you be willing to tell me how you respond to my message?


Harry "Outlandish" Robbins Wed 2 Aug 2017 11:07AM

@asimong I find it quite hard to follow very long discussions online, hence suggesting meeting face to face.

I'm not sure I fully understand your suggestions but from what I understand you are suggesting that we spend longer making decisions and understanding each others points of view, rather than racing to a false consensus.

Your proposal makes me feel scared that CoTech could turn into a talking shop rather than an engine of action. I think we made great progress when we met up and when we actually work together.

To me sociocracy (which Loomio facilitates) is not about consensus but about making a series of "good enough" decisions that can be improved upon later (see http://www.sociocracy.info/consent-versus-consensus/).

At Outlandish we make thousands of decisions per day, including a few with a full sociocratic process, and we spend very little time doing it even though some of these decisions could cost us tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds. Currently CoTech has no capital, no turnover and no staff so I think it should be making decisions faster than Outlandish rather than slower.

I agree with your point that there is a tension between people who see it as a business process and those that see it as something else. I personally see decision making (and other governance) as the former. I think solidarity, community and consensus are best built in other ways.


Graham Wed 2 Aug 2017 12:10PM

Building consensus is difficult, perhaps impossible in some situations, without the benefit of face to face discussion in my view, as the exchanges miss out so much non-verbal communication that can be crucial in a face to face meeting. With that in mind I think that a simple set of rules, such as has been proposed, is a workable solution. At the same time it is important that people take care to set our their views clearly and succinctly.

On the point of having no quorum I would disagree. If the orgs/people that are part of CoTech value their membership, then they should engage in the dialogue and decision-making process. If a proposal is set out that isn't relevant to them then they can simply abstain (and I say that as someone that has ignored stuff). I'd suggest that at least 50% of the members should participate (i.e. register their position) in a proposal if it is to be deemed viable.


Chris Roos Fri 4 Aug 2017 12:03PM

I'd suggest that at least 50% of the members should participate (i.e. register their position) in a proposal if it is to be deemed viable.

Hi @graham2. We did discuss this before opening the proposal but had the sense that we hadn't regularly achieved 50% participation and that such a requirement might mean that it's even harder to make any decisions using Loomio.

I've just been through the 15 proposals to date to work out the level of participation. The summary is that we've only had a single proposal that I can confidently say reached 50% participation. There were some voters that I couldn't match to coops so this number goes up to 7 proposals with 50% participation if we assume that each of those voters represented a different co-op. There's more information available in https://gist.github.com/chrisroos/6a5fc69bddee182f2759a14466ed4fed.

I think our preference would be to accept the proposal as-is and to tackle the issue of participation separately.


Simon Grant Wed 2 Aug 2017 12:22PM

Thank you, @harryrobbins — that really does contribute to my sense of being heard. For my part, I recognise your fear of action being lost in prolonged discussion, and I am aware that many people share that concern — myself included. Maybe some people have developed a kind of allergic reaction to the word "consensus", associated with this kind of fear.

Let me say it is very important to me that we address those fears. We cannot operate effectively within a system where discussion is able to be endlessly prolonged.

On the other side, sometimes the side less spoken about, people get to feel alienation when decisions are made that seem to them to negate or ignore their own concerns or fears. Nor is it simply two kinds of people. There are many people – most? – in between, who maybe go along with pushed decisions, but are not really happy, or are not happy because some people they cared about now feel alienated or have left.

I'm curious about your implicit belief that if there is less money at stake the decision should be quicker. Why do you believe that?

I'm also curious about what you might mean by saying that decision making and governance are "business processes" — as opposed to what? To me, "business" cannot be done properly, in a co-operative spirit, without agreement. Contracts that are forced on one side are not good for business in the long term. So to me, good business, internally, means getting good decisions. When is a decision "good enough"?

I hear that you think that solidarity and community are best built in other ways — but what ways?

To me, it is best in practice, as well as in principle, if business, solidarity and community are built together with interrelated processes and practices. I would sincerely hope that one does not detract from the other.


Harry "Outlandish" Robbins Wed 2 Aug 2017 5:06PM

"if there is less money at stake the decision should be quicker. Why do you believe that?"

At Outlandish we once went down the "everything must be discussed until there is consensus" route and we nearly went bust. We had a huge number of discussions about whether we wanted to pitch for small projects, and didn't successfully pitch for any while the process/principle was in place.

We now have very clear guidance on what needs discussing properly. Broadly they are things that will significantly address the business, such as changing the rules of membership. Anything that is within the existing rules people just do without asking for permission.

Personally I think that this is currently a do-ocracy - arrange and event, sell a collaboration, organise and exchange with another organisation, etc.

Outlandish want a framework agreement in place. We'll propose one and then enter it with individual co-ops if we can't get consent for the agreement from everyone.

I feel the discussion around Wortley Hall and the more accessible 'young co-operators' camp was an example of how Loomio can be at odds with a do-ocracy. Lots of people said they wanted it to happen, lots of people voted for it, quite a lot of people said they'd help organise it, and then only a group of fairly veteran co-operators who are all going to Wortley Hall anyway ended up going.


Graham Wed 2 Aug 2017 1:11PM

In my experience of working within a consensus based decision-making cooperative, the approach taken was about enabling everyone involved to a) understand the issue through Q&A and b) to express their opinion, with the goal of creating shared understanding, and through that achieve the best outcome for everyone involved. Good Loomio practice in support of this approach, again in my experience, means that a proposal is commonly only set out after participants have had the opportunity to engage with the issues, and in that way the proposal can itself take account of the position/s taken by participants and therefore be more likely to achieve broad support.

In a face to face meeting it's also common to have a chair, who can manage the discussion and ensure that the two points above are achieved as much as possible. I think that these are good practices that support consensus.

I support @asimong 's position on this stuff, and so will also disagree with the proposal as it stands. Happy to help draft an alternative.


Roy Brooks Wed 2 Aug 2017 5:28PM




Pete Burden Wed 2 Aug 2017 7:09PM

Yes, and all credit to those who organised and went. Do-ocracy in action!


Pete Burden


Pete Burden Thu 3 Aug 2017 8:50AM

And just to say, I am also really enjoying this discussion and dialogue about principles, consensus, consent etc, as well as valuing lots of 'doing'.

Personally, I think we need both (plus a focus on practice and an awareness of the emerging group dynamics!).


Graham Fri 4 Aug 2017 12:27PM

I don't wish to block things, but if we are going to accept this proposal as it stands, we should at least acknowledge that it does not amount to consensus decision-making. It does not encourage or incentivise broader participation which, by the evidence gathered by Chris, is clearly an issue that needs addressing. What it does enable is effective control by a vocal minority and removes the right of veto.


Chris Roos Fri 4 Aug 2017 1:18PM

What it does enable is effective control by a vocal minority and removes the right of veto.

Can you explain why you think it'll remove the right of veto, @graham2? I think we're imagining that a "block" vote would effectively veto the proposal.


Graham Fri 4 Aug 2017 1:30PM

Perhaps I'm misreading the text of the proposal? It says 'no block votes'.


James Mead (Go Free Range) Fri 4 Aug 2017 2:09PM


Perhaps I'm misreading the text of the proposal? It says 'no block votes'.

Yes, I'm sorry for the confusion, I meant it to mean that a proposal should not be accepted if it had any "block" votes.


James Mead (Go Free Range) Fri 4 Aug 2017 2:13PM

Firstly I want to apologise for not actively participating in this discussion having kicked it off in the first place. I also want to thank everyone who has contributed - I've learnt a lot from the discussion.

I only posted my proposal as a starting point and fully expected people to have alternative ideas. I had also assumed other people would feel free to post alternative proposals which I think Loomio allows.

However, this doesn't seem to have happened and so there has probably been undue focus on my original proposal which clearly wasn't very well thought through. In particular, in hindsight, I probably shouldn't have used the word "consensus" in conjunction with allowing proposals to be accepted when "disagree" votes have been registered.

Like @chrisroos my motivation for kicking off the discussion was to establish some kind of default ground rules for CoTech decision-making on Loomio. I care more about having some default rules than about exactly what those rules are.

What @harryrobbins said about "good enough" decisions resonated with me and perhaps that should've been the title of my proposal.

Given how few people have participated in this discussion and the relatively even split in the voting, I'm not sure it's safe to draw any significant conclusion from it other than that we should continue to discuss the matter. I’ll add an “outcome” to this effect shortly.


Sion Whellens (Principle Six/Calverts) Thu 10 Aug 2017 2:56PM

Love do-ocracy except if it mystifies material inputs/outputs in terms of money and labour, or turns into meritocracy.


Roy Brooks Thu 10 Aug 2017 3:52PM


(Still, neat word :)


Simon Grant Mon 14 Aug 2017 1:32PM

What exactly is do-ocracy? I'm sure we all get the general idea — JFDI — but when you start to look more closely, I'm wondering how you resolve the issues that are not just able to be dealt with in a superficial way? Are there certain conditions under which a "do-ocracy" flourishes effectively, and if so, what are they? What are the counter-indications? Without this kind of level of reflection, I'm finding it hard to take people seriously when they advocate for a do-ocracy.


Pete Burden Fri 25 Aug 2017 2:03PM

Hi Simon. A great challenge.

For me, and I don't know if this was what Harry meant, a 'do-ocracy' is a way of organising (note it's a verb, not a noun like 'organisation') where we accept we cannot know or control the future (even though our anxiety desires us to believe we can) and where, therefore, admitting this, we act, see what happens, reflect (on results and context), and act again.

This is an approach codified in management thinking by people like Reg Revans - in (critical) action learning, action research etc. But, for me, it's more than that: it's a philosophy, and a way of being that can be learnt and brought into all aspects of working life.

Obviously, it runs counter to much traditional thinking about organisations which assumes we can plan and control, and more so, that some people have that right more than others (the so-called 'leaders').

Sometimes what we 'do' impacts, or may impact, other people. When we are concerned about this, I think consent-based decision-making (as in Sociocracy) can make what may sound like a rather individualistic process into a much more social one.



Simon Grant Fri 25 Aug 2017 3:45PM

Interesting reply, thanks @peteburden -- a great help in surfacing the assumptions that may be being made here.

In terms of grammar, perhaps you mean "word that implies action"? There's no difference in grammar to me between "do-ocracy" and "democracy". Many nouns imply action.

As it happens, I'm a great fan of Reg Revans, though I haven't been reading him recently. And I don't really think it's fair to Revans to say that his approach could be called "do-ocracy".

I agree with you in dismissing the idea that everything can be planned and controlled, and that only some people have enough knowledge or competence to play any part in that planning and control. The things that can be planned and controlled, can be only while the assumptions hold, that were the basis of the planning (explicitly or, more dangerously, implicitly). On the other hand, if you believe that some particular aspect of things cannot be planned or controlled, then it is really helpful to point out the assumption that doesn't hold.

What about the converse? Who believes that nothing can be planned for or controlled? A planning approach runs counter to much primitive, magical thinking that believes that many things can only be controlled by ceremonies to appease deities. (Having said that, I acknowledge some fascinating similarities between magical thinking and a good understanding of human psychology.)

"what we 'do' impacts, or may impact, other people"

Yes. Almost always. I take that seriously; I'm sure you do, and I guess that everyone reading here does so as well. We can only know how it impacts other people by asking them, or knowing them very well. This, for me, is one of the drivers for a consensus-oriented approach to decision-making.

Can we please get back to trying to understand what people actually mean by "do-ocracy"?


Chris Roos Fri 25 Aug 2017 3:43PM

I just came across the "Definitions for voting" section in the "Worker Co-operative Solidarity Fund Operating Manual". This is the sort of thing we'd like to come up with for this Loomio group.

I'm pasting it here too to save people a click:

Definitions for voting

I support the proposal

I don’t wish to express a view for or against, but I’m willing to be counted as part of the necessary majority if that’s what it takes to pass the proposal

I think there might be a better alternative, but I’m willing to go with the majority decision

I believe the proposal goes against the Fund’s agreed rules or purposes, or would create unacceptable risk to the Fund.

8.6. In order to pass, the number of members voting to Agree plus the number of members voting to Abstain must be at least 75% of the total votes cast.

8.7. If 5% or more of the votes are to ‘Block’ then the proposal will not succeed. Whether the number of ‘Block’ votes reaches 5% or not, any member casting a ‘Block’ vote should set out their reasons in the associated discussion thread, and participate in any subsequent discussion aimed at resolving the issue. This should be considered a responsibility of membership.

“It’s like pulling the emergency lever on a tube train. You will have to justify it”
(N. Brown)

8.8. For important proposals, such as changes to the Rules, a 30% quorum level of Loomio-registered members will be required, in addition to a 75% majority of agree + abstain votes.

8.9. Common sense should apply to the length of time needed for a proposals to be issues and a deadline for voting. Normally, this would be at least two weeks.


Simon Grant Fri 25 Aug 2017 3:47PM

Thanks, @chrisroos Very similar to Loomio's description.

I'd like to work to refine the meaning of "disagree" and "block" in terms of process. As it happens, we're working on something very similar in our Cohousing community right now.

Later addition: actually I see there is lots of useful material on the Loomio site itself. It might help if people read and discussed that, before labouring to reinvent it.

I'm agreeing with you, really, @chrisroos :)


Harry "Outlandish" Robbins Fri 25 Aug 2017 4:33PM

@asimong I think Pete was suggesting that democracy means "government by the masses" while do-ocracy suggests "government through doing" - it suggests how power will be wielded, rather than who will wield it.


Harry "Outlandish" Robbins Fri 25 Aug 2017 4:36PM

e.g. "do-ocracy" is an alternative to "vote-ocracy" rather than "democracy". FWIW I would hope to see a lot more doing than voting.


Simon Grant Sat 26 Aug 2017 3:23AM

Thank you Harry @harryrobbins for continuing to explain the assumptions here.

If government is "through doing", what counts as "doing"? What about the less active people that are affected by what someone is doing? Do they not get a say? And aren't you saying that the people who wield power are the doers, rather than those who stand by?

I'm all for a discussion of how power is to be wielded. I agree that one symptom of a healthy state of affairs is that there is a lot more doing than voting. Another, perhaps equally important symptom of health is that people are feeling solidarity, and are happy with -- not feeling threatened by -- the actions taken, whether or not they have been formally agreed. I'd point out that the only way to achieve this last positive result is, at least, to consult people transparently, with a mind open to hearing unexpected reservations. What then follows disagreement should be dialogue, where both sides listen to the other; learn from each other; and work towards consensus. That way, better decisions can be made, and more positive actions taken, without often needing formality or voting.


Pete Burden Sat 26 Aug 2017 12:37PM

Like Harry, I prefer a do-ocracy to a vote-ocracy.

I also prefer to work in a place where forgiveness is asked more than permission. Where people are encouraged to try things action-learning-like rather than theorising or designing structures that may or not may work in practice.

For me the world is filled with people and experts commenting and giving opinions. Personally, I think that might all be a distraction.

I am also very keen on a consent-based model of decision-making because for me that allows things to get done, more often than other models - either consensus or voting.

I like simple, easy to remember and use, models.

But those are just my personal preferences. I am really interested to hear about others ideas.


Simon Grant Mon 28 Aug 2017 6:16AM

"people are encouraged to try things action-learning-like rather than theorising or designing structures that may or not may work in practice."


"people and experts commenting and giving opinions"

I'd guess it's well recognised that people who give opinions on things that don't practically affect them aren't necessarily contributing positively to any decision.

When I read "I prefer a do-ocracy to a vote-ocracy", I'm feeling a bit of frustration because what I really want is to have the opportunity to find out what we agree on already, and what I can learn about you, or life, that I don't already know. The words may be getting in the way.

Many people have put a lot of effort into exploring ways to do "consensus" well in practice, but have kept hold of the term "consensus", while interpreting it in ways that are similar to what other people mean by "consent". Saying or implying that consensus is sub-optimal disrespects their efforts and meanings, and risks serving to start argumentation rather than dialogue.

A principle which I find very helpful in these kinds of situation is if both sides let go of their preferred terminology for the moment, and talk about what they find helpful or unhelpful in neutral terms. Often, when we have the courage to let go of our own terminology, we are surprised by the amount of common ground.


Pete Burden Mon 28 Aug 2017 9:14AM

Well said, Simon, thanks.

Re consent, consensus, I am sorry. A trap I sometimes fall into.

It sounds like we agree terminology can get in the way of understanding.

We also seem to agree that practical action is to be preferred to theorising.

In the spirit of surfacing assumptions and getting to know one another, I'd like to hear how familiar people are with the basic 'consent'-building process as used in eg Sociocracy?

And what other means of gaining 'consensus' are currently in use?

While not wanting to completely put aside the idea that much progress happens outside of formal decision-making processes (which may be what the do-ocracy idea relates to) I hope this might move us forward.


Simon Grant Wed 28 Feb 2018 11:15AM

Following on from the apparent disagreements over DLC membership and the decision-making on that topic, do folks prefer to extend this thread, or start a new, broader discussion on governance, which I guess could include evolving the constitution as well as detailing process and practice around and supporting decision-making, as well as decision-making itself?