Consent Decision Making – How to take effective decisions collaboratively

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In this series of blogs, I am writing of my experience of practical applications of Sociocracy 3.0 (S3) patterns in teams and organizations. In the first blog, I wrote about My journey of finding and applying Sociocracy 3.0 (S3). There are many cool patterns in S3 that I have been using with great success as an Agile organizational coach so far. In this article I will cover the pattern of Consent Decision Making:

In contrast to consensus which focuses on reaching an agreement, consent focuses on intentionally checking for reasons not to do something a certain way. An objection is an argument that reveals why doing (or continuing to do) something, impedes or misses an opportunity to improve flowing value somewhere in the organization. Reaching consensus is often very time consuming and has the risk that one single person can block the whole process when unanimity is sought.

Seeking consensus can also narrow the scope of creativity over time as everyone tries to fit themselves into the same ‘box’! When I introduce Consent in teams and organizations the speed of making decisions and effectiveness of the decisions significantly improves. So much so that sometimes people express surprise. I have heard comments like “that was scarily fast”, or “Oh, this was too fast, shouldn’t we discuss this more?”, or “we have been trying to solve this for years and now we decided it in just a few minutes” or “we have not been able to come to a decision forever and now we took three decisions in 10 minutes”.

Consent decision making is about making “good enough for now, safe enough to try” decisions and then testing them in practice to learn through experience and improve iteratively when reasons emerge to do so. When I introduce this in agile teams it dawns on them how we can apply an agile mindset to decision making too. It becomes obvious that all decisions are just experiments that can be revisited at any time. One coach told me that the team’s ability to take decisions had increased dramatically. “I haven’t even learned to facilitate it well yet but just the framing of a decision as a “good enough for now, safe enough to try experiment” is so liberating, It frees up the decision making paralysis.

” The teams I work with love Consent Decision Making. I believe that the organization that can master quick and effective, collaborative decentralized decision making will be a winner in the future. Do you want to learn more? Then check out the S3 free learning resources at sociocracy30.org, or come to an S3 course at Crisp. The next S3 course is November 22-24.

2 Comments

  • 1
    2017-11-04 - 06:49 | Permalink

    Thank you, Michael, for sharing this. Just yesterday I read through S3’s practical guide, and now when I read about your experiences with S3 I feel more confident to try it myself because of the added context and examples. Keep it up!

    • 2
      Michael Göthe
      Michael Göthe
      2017-11-05 - 23:16 | Permalink

      Thanks Teddy for the appreciation. Glad to hear you are starting to experiment. And as I said in the text. Just by starting with focusing on framing decisions as “Good enough for now, and safe enough to try” experiments will take you a long way towards more agile decision-making. You can then practice your facilitation as you go. Good Luck!

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