Re: Consensus decision making
From: John Faust (
Date: Mon, 11 Aug 2008 19:35:34 -0700 (PDT)
The reason for suggesting blocks/objections be grounded in the
vision/mission/principles of the community is because these represent the
basic agreements on what the community aspires to (vision/mission) and how
it should go about it (principles).

The idea behind grounding blocks is *not* simply to expedite the process,
though that may happen. Rather it is to keep it focused on the basic
agreements of the community. Given the power of the block in consensus
decision making, it should be used with care. Knowing that it might have to
pass a minimal test should encourage the blocker to place it in that
context. [I would also argue that all proposals should have the same
grounding requirements--a clause indicating how it relates to the basic

This not a ploy to eliminate the unpopular block (which can be better
grounded than the proposal it blocks); it is a ploy to eliminate the
obstructive or gratuitous block that keeps the group from fulfilling their
basic agreements. As Racheli points out, one of the difficulties may be that
many communities view their basic agreements as formalities rather than
substantive documents--*not defined well enough*. In those cases, this would
be a meaningless addition to the consensus process.

Looking at the alternative--ungrounded blocks, what is the process like? An
obstructive block stalls the process. This is followed by a lot of
discussion trying to get unstuck. What is the basis of the discussion? What
besides the basic agreements should guide this discussion? The alternative
is an ad hoc dialogue leading to where? It seems to me, if consistency is
important in decision making, the only realistic framework for such
discussions are the basic agreements. So in this case, frustration sets in
and the escape clause is invoked and we are back to a super majority
decision. Seems to me that if the proposal and blocks are placed in that
context to begin with, then there might be a better chance of avoiding the
escape clause.

There is one more advantage from all of the attention given to the basic
agreements. It will uncover their shortcomings. This will lead to amendments
and a more workable set of agreements.


Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.