Consent Decision Making

Everyone who’s affected by a decision should be directly or indirectly involved in the decision making. This could mean all members of a Team, a Delegate Circle, everyone holding the same role, a list of affected people or all VSHNeers.

As Consent Decision Making is about making good enough for now, safe enough to try decisions, we live a culture where people feel comfortable to raise potential objections at any time. Everyone has the possibility to voice Objections against proposals, decisions, existing agreements, processes or activities.

Giving Consent to something or consenting means the absence of Objections. it’s not to be confused with Consensus, which would mean that everyone has to agree.

Implicit Contract of Consent:

In the absence of objections to an agreement, I intend to follow through on the agreement to the best of my ability.
I agree to share objections as I become aware of them.

Objection

An Objection is an argument relating to a (proposed) agreement or activity that reveals unintended consequences we’d rather avoid, or that demonstrates worthwhile ways to improve right now.

In turn having no Objection means:

  • Despite my best effort I can see no reason why the proposed agreement would harm our organization.

  • I see no way to significantly improve the proposal on the spot.

  • I don’t think the proposed agreement conflicts with an existing agreement.

  • I think this proposal is good enough for now and safe enough to try.

The Process

A (facilitated) group process for decision making: invite objections, and consider information and knowledge revealed to further evolve proposals or existing agreements.

s3 cdm 1

If the group of people who understood and assigned the Driver is different from the group making the decision, we check if the Driver is clear enough to proceed and relevant for us.

It actually helps to present the Driver in an active form, for example by reading it or giving everyone a fixed time to read it and ask questions.

Present the Proposal

Present the created Proposal to the group. In meetings this can be the Facilitator or someone who was involved in writing the Proposal (for example one of the Tuners). In our asynchronous, written world, active presentation is a good thing nevertheless it usually makes sense that you send a ready Proposal before meetings so that they can study it and prepare questions.

Clarifying Questions

Check for questions whether the group understands the Proposal as it’s written. This isn’t about asking "why" the Proposal is like it’s or questioning the Driver behind the Proposal.

Normally the tuners can answer such questions, but in principle anyone may. The goal is to have a common understanding of what the proposal means.

Brief Response

This gives people an outlet to vent their feelings. Before we go into the actual decision making.

This step does usually not work asynchronously or in written form.

Let everyone speak, for example by using Rounds.


s3 cdm 2

Invite Objections

Invite the group to raise their potential Objections.

In a meeting, you can use hand signs for this. In a written or spoken way people can use one of I have a concern…​, No objection or I think I have an objection…​. The VIPs know a way to collect concern asynchronously in written way.

Resolve Objections

Resolve all Objections, one at a time, usually by talking with each other and amending the proposal until we can consent to the whole proposal.

Resolving Objections is about making Proposals better, it’s not about moving blockers out of the way.

Celebrate

Yes, we mean this. It’s important that we celebrate that we made a decision, have an agreement and can proceed with living it.

(Consider Concern)

Addressing objections usually reveals concerns. it’s useful to document such concerns in written form so that we can use them in subsequent reviews of the agreement or in implementing the agreement. In meetings, we should listen to concerns, when there is time.