Re: Risk Management
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Fri, 14 Jul 2017 07:58:12 -0700 (PDT)
> On Jul 14, 2017, at 9:20 AM, Philip Dowds <rphilipdowds [at]> wrote:
> Maybe we should have a new word for this kind of outcome, like “unobjectous”.

In sociocracy the definition of consent is "no objections.” 

> But … What’s this Stand-aside thing?

It’s a vestige of parliamentary procedure — those eligible to vote can say yes, 
no, or stand aside. Stand asides are counted with the majority, though they are 
often negatives. Like a soft objection. If we have more than 2-3 stand asides 
we usually go back and reconsider. If the reasons are known and are not really 
objections we may leave them. The reasons are recorded in the minutes.

Sometimes people don’t want to go on record as having consented as a positive 
act when they haven’t examined the issue enough to know if they have 
objections. We have one person who is so strong in his principles that if he 
hasn’t studied the issue, he stands aside. 

If people are listed in the minutes as having attended and a stand aside isn’t 
recorded, the assumption is that they consented. 

> When everything else fails, I’ve been known to stand aside by leaving the 
> room, and subtracting myself from the participating quorum.

We have these often. People don’t want to be on record as consenting or aren’t 
affected by the decision.

> I note you do not include “quorum” in your definition set …

We have a 51% quorum, so consent is all of the 51% including stand asides. I am 
in favor of having no quorum in consent decisions for two reasons:

1. No quorum allows people who are affected or concerned with an issue to 
discuss it and decide. Others by their absence are assumed to consent. People 
who can’t attend a meeting in which a discussion is scheduled can ask for the 
issue to be delayed for a later meeting.

One community reports that no quorum brings out more people to a meeting 
because they are afraid a decision will be made without them. 

We sometimes can’t get issues on the agenda for discussion or decision because 
“no one cares” so we won’t have a quorum. Well, 8 may care very much and be 
directly affected, so it is important to discuss the issue. Otherwise you have 
majority rule by default.

2. “No objections” on the part of all present is a much higher than traditional 
bar. In parliamentary procedure, if the quorum is 51% percent of a those 
eligible to vote, 51% of those present and voting can carry a decision. 

If a quorum is met with 25 people and 5 people do not vote, 11 people voting 
yes carries the decision. That would be only 11 of the 49 people eligible to 
vote. Stand asides usually count with the majority. So of the 11, a number 
could have been stand asides and counted with say 6 yes votes, depending on the 
provisions of the bylaws.

If everyone affected by a decision, or cares about the outcome, consents to a 
decision, in practical terms that would be all that would be required to 
execute the decision.

On bike storage for example, if the community has set a policy that bikes can 
be stored in this area on a first come first served basis, bikes must be in 
good condition because they are visible, etc., then the bike owners can decide 
amongst themselves by consent how the bikes will be parked within those 

In each case, as long as the meeting has been properly announced and no member 
has asked for a different date because they can’t be there, is a quorum 

No quorum allows more issues to be discussed and decided by engaged people, not 
those who are there and playing solitaire just to get a body count. We even 
allow people who come to be counted for the quorum to leave. The quorum is 
assumed to be present for the whole meeting unless someone calls for a count.

Our bylaws set Robert’s Rules as the default when our bylaws are silent on an 
issue so sometimes that is the guide.

In sociocracy the aim is to create harmony which is best produced by ensuring 
that no one has objections that would prevent them from working harmoniously if 
the proposed action is taken.

Sharon Villines

“There can be too much truth in any relationship.” — Violet, Dowager Countess 
of Grantham

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