What is Consent-based Decision Making?
Consent-based decision making is a collaborative approach where decisions are made not by achieving full agreement (as in consensus) but by ensuring no one has strong objections. Key points include:
- Consent, Not Full Agreement: The aim is for decisions that everyone can live with, rather than complete agreement.
- Addressing Objections: The process focuses on identifying and resolving any major objections, using them to improve decisions.
- Efficiency: It's often quicker than consensus, as it doesn't require complete agreement.
- Flexibility: Decisions are seen as reversible and open to revision, encouraging a culture of experimentation and adaptation.
- Empowerment: Everyone has an equal voice and is encouraged to voice concerns, fostering a sense of involvement and responsibility.
This method is particularly effective in cooperative communities or organizations.
Consent: Decision-making in Sociocracy
This video describes the consent-based decision-making process, focusing on the steps from presenting a proposal to reaching a decision:
- Presenting the Proposal: It's important to clearly state the proposal so everyone understands it.
- Understanding the Proposal: The group conducts rounds where each member can ask questions or clarify their understanding without offering opinions or alternatives.
- Gathering Reactions: Members share their reactions, appreciations, or minor amendments to the proposal in a structured round, limiting their input to a brief duration.
- Consent Round: Members state whether they consent or object to the proposal. Objections must be reasoned, relating to potential negative impacts on the group's work.
- Addressing Objections: If objections are raised, the group discusses them to understand the concerns. Options for addressing objections include revising the proposal, setting a trial period, measuring the concern, seeking additional information, or rewriting the proposal.
- Refining the Proposal: Based on feedback and objections, the proposal may be modified. If significant changes are made, the process may restart for clarity.
- Final Consent Round: With a modified proposal, a second consent round is conducted. If all members consent, the decision is made and recorded in the minutes.
The process emphasizes clear communication, understanding, and addressing objections constructively, with the aim of making decisions efficiently and collaboratively.
Consent-based decision making is a collaborative approach to making decisions, especially common in cooperative, collective, and flat organizational structures. Unlike consensus decision making, where the goal is to reach an agreement that everyone actively supports, consent-based decision making focuses on reaching decisions that everyone can live with. Here are key features of this approach:
- Definition of Consent: In this context, consent doesn't mean that everyone is completely satisfied with the decision. Instead, it means that no one has any paramount objections to it. Paramount objections are those that are based on reasoned and substantial concerns.
- Focus on Objections: The process actively seeks and addresses objections. The idea is that objections are valuable sources of insight and help improve the decision. If someone has an objection, it's explored to understand the underlying reasons and see if they point to a risk or drawback that hadn't been considered.
- Efficiency in Decision-Making: Consent-based decision making can be more efficient than seeking consensus because it doesn't require everyone to fully agree. The goal is to find a solution that's good enough for now and safe enough to try.
- Iteration and Flexibility: Decisions made are often seen as temporary and revisable. This approach encourages a culture of experimentation, learning, and adapting.
- Empowerment and Responsibility: Everyone involved in the process has the power to voice objections and the responsibility to engage constructively. This can lead to a more empowered and accountable organizational culture.
- Inclusive and Equal Participation: All members of the group have an equal voice in the decision-making process. This helps in creating a more inclusive environment where diverse perspectives are valued.
Consent-based decision making is particularly useful in environments where collaboration and collective ownership are valued over top-down authority. It's often used in self-managed teams, cooperatives, and non-hierarchical organizations. This method can help to foster a sense of belonging and commitment among members, as their voices and concerns are actively sought and addressed.
“Consent does not mean everyone is actively involved in making every decision, as this would be ineffective. Instead it’s useful to make decisions that, over time, free people up as much as possible to decide and act to create value by themselves”
“Raise, seek out and resolve objections to decisions and actions, so that you can reduce the potential for undesirable consequences and discover worthwhile ways to improve.”
Deliberately seeking objections is a way to tap into the collective intelligence distributed throughout an organization and benefit from insights we might otherwise miss.