A Clean Decision-Making Process
One of the ways the principles and methods used by sociocracy speed up decision-making is going directly to objections instead of discussing the proposal. The proposal should state the perceived advantages or reasons why a decision is needed. The presenters will also have presented the issues and options they considered. After clarifying questions, there is usually no need to hear arguments in favor or to repeat the discussion that has taken place in the team or in previous membership meetings. The following process produces a decision most effectively:
Prequel: In order to write an effective proposal, discuss or request input from everyone who will be affected by a proposed decision. A formal membership meeting is not necessary.
1. Present the proposal.
2. Answer clarifying questions. Questions should be clean questions with no embedded messages. If there is an embedded message, don’t discuss it. Answer as if it had been a clean question or defer it for rounds.
3. Reaction round of 1-2 word responses to determine if there are any concerns or objections that seem unresolvable or serious. This will determine if the proposal is ready for consent or should be referred back to committee.
4. A round to state concerns and objections in detail.
(a) Refer these back to committee or
(b) Begin consent rounds to resolve them.
5. Consent rounds asking “Do you have objections that will influence your ability to support this decision? More than one round may be necessary to discuss and respond to objections.
Addressing concerns and resolving objections is a group process, not the duty of the facilitator. The facilitator makes a decision on how to proceed but this decision is subject to objections.
The facilitator participates as an equal, including in rounds.
The goal is consent to a decision everyone can support on a day-to-day operational basis.
Effectiveness, transparency, and accountability are the prime values in this process:
–What will get us to the most effective decision?
–Does everyone have all the information relevant to this decision?
–Who will be accountable for the outcome of the decision?
Discussion may be interspersed with rounds. Rounds establish and maintain equivalence in the room. They keep decision-making balanced by encouraging everyone to participate equally. The reticent as well as the more expansive. Discussion, free form or dialogue between 2 or more persons, can be helpful to clarify questions or to provide information others in the group may not have.
A proposal needs a person(s) to make a decision operational and a method of measuring outcomes. If there is no plan for making the decision operational or any way to measure effectiveness, the decision will probably be meaningless. Not worth the time to make.
In addition to moving objections to the beginning instead of the end of the process, consideration of outcomes will speed things up because you have to get to them in order to have them. The endpoint is only the process in practice workshop. In the day-to-day the endpoint is a consensus decision that works.
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Tags: Conflict Resolution, Consensus, Facilitation, Group Process