Consent-based decision making is about making fast decisions that are ‘good enough’ for you to move forward, rather than getting everyone to agree on a decision that’s ‘right’ before moving forward.

In a nutshell, it’s about getting consent rather than getting consensus.

Consensus requires everyone to say yes. The more people involved in a decision, the more of a challenge this poses.

Consent requires no one to say no. It doesn’t mean that everyone believes it’s the best option or the only option. The idea is that this option is a place to start and experiment. It’s not so full of risk that it’s going to derail the project, but it gives us a chance to learn and better understand the situation, or test our assumptions based on putting something into action.


How does it work?

Proposal

First, there needs to be a particular proposal being put forward. In the example case, we were discussing the compensation system and someone submitted the idea to create a new role responsible for it. This person needs to have ownership of the proposal and present it to the team.

Clarifying questions

Next, you can ask the team if they have any clarifying questions on the proposal. For example, is there something they don’t understand or need more clarity on? You can go around to see if there is anything that needs to be addressed.

Reaction

One at a time, each person reacts to the proposal as they see fit. Any type of reaction is welcome. You may need to go back and forth between clarifying questions and providing a brief response until everyone is satisfied.

Any objections?

Anything that comes out of the clarifying questions is then integrated into the proposal, if required. This may require some discussion among the group, but remember it’s not about consensus, so only things that the project owner believes needs to be addressed, should be.

Resolve objections

Next, ask the group if they have any objections to trying the proposal. One of two things will happen: either there will be no objections and you can move on; or someone may object to the proposal. You then need to ask yourselves as a group: is the proposal good enough to start and safe enough to try?

The proposal really cannot move forward until all objections are resolved. If there is an objection that explains why the proposal is not good enough for now, the group will need to discuss and define a point at which it will be good enough. Once this point is reached, you can celebrate and move on!


What are the benefits of consent-based decision?

  • Consent-based decision making treats decisions as experiments that are good enough for now and safe enough to try. It can really speed up decision making and help you continuously learn and iterate.

  • Consent-based decision making support change and experimentation, drive ‘outside the box’ thinking and build trust. It allows you to take a few risks, learn from mistakes or unexpected results and adjust or pivot your actions.


Implementing consent-based decision in Holaspirit

Asynchronously or during meetings, Holaspirit manages consent decision process smoothly.

  • You can create submit a proposal to your team without having to wait for the next meeting.

  • You can discuss Tensions and Proposals with your team during your circle meetings by adding agenda items. The facilitator of the meeting should guide you into the process.


See also

The Proposals module

How to create a proposal

How to submit a proposal to my circle

How to vote on a proposal

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