Re: consensus, formats, mission statements, various
From: Tree Bressen (
Date: Wed, 14 Dec 2011 11:53:23 -0800 (PST)
Hi Sharon & folks,

The procedure in sociocratic governance is that a discussion is held by the group and a decision made with the outlier(s) excluded from the consent process. The outliers can listen and participate in discussion but not participate in the decision. This is in essence a majority vote.

Can you tell me more about this option? Under what circumstances is it invoked? Who makes the call that someone is an "outlier" and can then be excluded from decision power, is that done by the facilitator or is there some group validation involved? (I do have your book We the People so if this is covered there feel free to point to a page #, i read it a while ago so i don't recall all the details at this point.)

Groups come together because they have a desired aim ? something they want to defeat or achieve. No matter how elevated or simple that aim may be ? creating a free society or watching football together on Sundays ? it is the reason the group is a group. Decisions should be based on accomplishing that aim. Decisions are needed when there is a need or opportunity to better realize that aim. Since change is constant, the need for actionable decisions is ongoing in order to adjust.

The "good of the group" is meaningless unless is defined in terms of the aim. An aim requires a definition against which all actions can be measured. The "good of the group" is usually just what the majority wants.

I agree with your emphasis on purpose and aim as the basis for good decisions. I think that's easier to apply in mission-driven groups than in cohousing, where the purpose tends to default to the well-being of the group because the purpose of a cohousing community is generally rather broad.

The problem with all those defined positions is that once everyone has taken their position, the group is still left with a question of how to move forward. With 10% standing aside? 5% with consent with reservations? The focus becomes numbers, not content. And down the line some people will be defending the positions they took instead of moving forward.

The real questions concern content. What are the arguments both for and against?

Again, i totally agree on emphasizing content, and furthermore the deeper reasons and feelings behind the content--not just what someone's position is, but WHY they are taking that position. In a well-functioning consensus group, that is where the attention and action are, and concerns are shared openly all along the way so that the group can find the best proposal to meet the need. However, at some point an actual decision needs to be rendered, and if the organization has any degree of formality at all (which every cohousing group does), then there needs to be some procedure for how to do that. Sociocratic consent has its procedures just like any other decision-making system. I am happy to see exploration of procedures by different groups, so that collectively over time we can all learn what works best in various circumstances.




Tree Bressen
Eugene, Oregon
(541) 343-3855 (after 11am)
tree [at]

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.