Recipe : Roomio
Roomio is our in-person version of Loomio. We use it to make group decisions by consensus in meetings when everyone affected by the decision is in the room. Below are the principles and process involved.
We've found holding these cultural principles (mindset) dramatically improves the process of group decision-making.
If you are operating in a group decision-making space then you are thinking in the interest of the group — not just yourself as an individual. A key frame here is not ‘what do I want?’ or ‘what should we do?’, but instead ‘what makes sense here?’. This of course doesn’t mean that we become self-sacrificing, but that you blend your interest with that of the group.
Difference as a resource - if someone disagrees it’s because they have found a legitimate problem with the proposal that they want to be part of solving. Difference is a strength not a weakness. Dissent is valuable. At Enspiral the expectation that comes with disagreeing with a proposal is that you become invested in finding a better solution that works for everyone.
Creative reconciliation - compromising is a lose:lose situation. Instead reach for creative reconciliation. This potential that comes with effective group work — the potential to create new possibilities that no one person could have come up with on their own — is the whole deal. This is why we do collaboration — because we believe that groups are more generative and intelligent that individuals. But this means you need to hold loosely to what you propose, to be open to a better solution which means a different definition of success - you don’t win when you’re the one who comes up with the great idea, you win when the group becomes authentically generative.
Feelings are information too - create explicit invitations to express feelings — even if they are inarticulate, they are a valuable source of intelligence. We’re conditioned in the workplace to pretend like “I haven’t got feelings. I left them at home! I’m at work now and I have my special uniform on that says No Feelings.” But this forces people to become less than human, which is detrimental fostering the care and high trust that lubricates group work.
Humans flourish in flexibility - a community is not a monolithic thing — it is full of contradictions and there are no solutions that are going to fit everyone perfectly. Humans need flexibility to be able to flourish and show up with their full selves. Working in group intelligence is as inherently messy as any other human endeavour and pretending otherwise is just going to get you into trouble.
Sit with the group in a circle.
Context : Someone sets the context for the discussion - giving everyone the relevant information they need to be feeding into the decision-making process.
Round of responses : Invite a round of responses. Any person can start and then pick a direction to continue. People have the option to pass and the group will check in with them when everyone else has spoken to see if they would like to speak. Responses can involve both questions and statements / opinions.
Generative discussion : Once everyone has spoken, the room opens for anyone to speak, with the intention of starting to pull the common thread of the responses and give directionality to the conversation. People speak as they are moved to. The facilitator (usually the person who gave the discussion context) watches for who is speaking and who isn't, and makes space those more reserved voices to contribute.
Proposal : The discussion reaches a point of convergence and someone in the group raises a proposal. They articulate this to the group and check in to make sure everyone understands what they are proposing.
Voting : The group is invited to vote. This is done with hand signals adapted from Occupy General Assembly. There is a count to three and everyone makes the signal for their vote.
- Thumbs up = Agree (want proposal to go ahead)
- Thumb on side = Abstain (happy for group to decide)
- Thumbs down = Disagree (think we can do better)
- Hand up = Block (vetoes the decision)
Creating Agreement : Everyone is invited to make a comment about their vote if they choose. If someone has blocked the decision cannot be passed and so it is up to that person to explain why they have blocked - their concern and what they think would improve the proposal. Although decisions can be passed with people disagreeing, in practice these people are usually invited to improve the proposal. Once a new proposal has been formulated and articulated, the voting happens again. Sometimes a proposal will be iterated on a few times before agreement is reach. This can often be the most productive thing to happen in the group.