Re: Consensus decision making
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Mon, 11 Aug 2008 09:37:58 -0700 (PDT)

On Aug 11, 2008, at 12:09 PM, Racheli Gai wrote:

Yeah, I agree.  Which is why we also have the requirement that a few
other people (I don't remember the number we stipulated) need to see that there is a legitimate connection between the objection and a community value/goal.

Again, this has the same effect as majority vote. My own objections are not valid unless someone else thinks they are.

Note that for a person to see a block as valid doesn't mean that s/he
wishes to block themselves, or that they think that a block is called for.

The problem with the word "block" is that it is like "cement block." It has no nuance, no feeling, no concerns, no past experience, no knowledge, no intelligence. To say that a person is "blocking" is to ultimately treat them as they were a cement block and devoid of human qualities.

The word "objections" allows all the human characteristics as a basis and relates them to a rational process. Objections can be examined and resolved and understood.

Switching from "objections" to "blocks" is to make a value judgement about the person who is raising the objections. The objections may feel to me personally like a block, but that is me, not them.

The word used in sociocratic decision-making is veto vs objections. A veto is something that does not have to be reasoned and does not require participation. The President vetoes bills; he/she doesn't object. He/she doesn't participate in dialogue or doesn't have to.

Without that reasoning process, it is a veto.

Sociocratic decision-making also puts decisions in the domain that they affect. Decisions that are delegated to a team/circle, must be made with consensus within that team/circle. If the team/circle cannot reach consensus, then the decision is referred to the Management Group / General Circle. This group includes two members of each team/ circle, including the circle that could not reach a decision. If the general circle cannot reach a decision, it goes to the Board or Top Circle. This group includes outside experts like lawyers, accountants, process or cohousing community consultants, etc.

At each level a broader point of view and scope of knowledge is available to determine the best decision. Decisions in full circle meetings or full group meetings would be limited to larger issues like the goals of the group and the overall strategies for reaching them. In large groups, over 40 people, for example, these would be rare. Overall goals and strategies would be made with all levels modifying a written master plan, but probably not in full circle meetings.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing,Washington DC

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