Trust your year has started off well. For the past 6 months or so, we have been learning and practicing decision making by consent rather than consensus. In a nutshell, consensus requires everyone to agree, while consent means that a decision will be taken as long as no one in the decision-making group objects. So, in consent decision-making, a proposal is reworked until there are no objections. However, an objection is strictly defined as a concern that “the decision proposed is at odds with the purpose of the group and hinders its members from doing their job well.”
Decision-making by consent is a tool that enables us to honour objections as valuable input that creates better decisions. It cultivates ownership and strengthens a group’s effectiveness. It is a decision-making method that we aim to adopt across the organization which includes the workgroups in the communities we engage to build and nurture an ecosystem where people are empowered to self-organise.
Anyway, we are far from competent in its application, and we are really just at the start of this journey with requires much commitment, learning and skillful implementation. Nonetheless I would like to share a small success we had this week. We have been discussing how to improve an aspect of operation within our child development centre and after several rounds listening to each other, the needs of the children, the teachers and the organisation were articulated and agreed as equally important. Thus, it was agreed that the proposed improvements had to address these identified needs.
After considering how this could done, our Principal put forth a proposal but we structured the decision-making process into different rounds. In the first round we invited clarifications about the proposal. This was done to establish that everyone had the same understanding of what was being proposed. Then we asked for a quick reaction and got to hear affirmative comments alongside reservations. Here we had the opportunity to listen to an implementation issue and the Principal responded by making available an added resource in the proposal. Finally, we conducted a consent round and while some thoughts were surfaced, everyone eventually acknowledged that they were preferences rather than objections, and there was consent.
For any progress or simply the meeting of our most basic needs, cooperation is critical, and trust is its fuel. To encourage and sustain cooperation, we have chosen to adopt and grow a decision-making method that intentionally supports listening, participation, agency, clarity, and commitment to a shared goal.
On this note, may you be energized daily by moments cooperation in the year ahead.