Re: Consensus and multiple candidates
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sat, 7 Nov 2009 08:23:20 -0800 (PST)
The sociocratic process. Jessie posted about the process her community uses to elect the board. I edited her message so I don't want to attribute it to her but people need to read the process before I can respond.

Each member can nominate anyone in the community by writing their name down and handing the paper to the facilitator ... the facilitator starts by asking one of the nominators to give reasons the nomination s/he made ... The person nominated doesn't speak yet - they listen to the discussion. Then the facilitator asks if anyone has a paramount objection to accepting the nomination. At this point, as a paramount objection, the candidate may withdraw if s/he really cannot serve. And other paramount objections are discussed.

The reason for not allowing candidates to withdraw when nominated is that contrary to expectations, this is a very affirming process. People rarely know how much people appreciate their skills.

Yes, people can say things no one wants to hear but generally they don't unless, as Jessie said, it is a paramount objection -- meaning they really can't live with it. The objection must also be explained and the nominee given an opportunity to respond. This dialogue can be very healthy for a community. The objections are sometimes based on incorrect information, for example, and it is important to everyone to clarify this.

When nominees hear supporting comments and have an opportunity to clarify concerns and objections, they are much less likely to withdraw. They will engage to either live up to or put down the comments unless there truly are immovable time constraints,

The part of the process as John conducts it that I disagree with is the sorting of the nominations forms into stacks. When people see that one pile is larger than another, it looks like that person is the choice. John does this just to organize the information for himself. When you have experience with the process, you understand why the number of nominations doesn't influence the final outcome, but it can be intimidating if you don't understand it. I prefer that the ballots be read as randomly as they are handed in.

IMPT: We tend to have experienced this kind of discussion in high school as a popularity contest. The sociocratic process is different in that THE FIRST STEP is to read, define, or redefine the job description and the expected tasks. Thus the nominations and the general discussion are directed to expected job performance, not popularity. You want to elect the best person available who can do the job.

Sharon Villines
Center for Sociocratic Governance

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