About Consensus decision-making process:
The simple consensus system is designed to facilitate decision making and empower Working Group leaders while generating enthusiasm from collaborators and volunteers.
- The simple consensus requires that leaders submit procedure decisions to larger group evolved in the project. Email is the preferred form of official communication. Group meetings shall be required for larger decisions and long-term planning.
- The decision is considered approved if there is no objection within the time of a week for procedures that do not evolve cost and within one month for decisions that may evolve cost, as long as expenses are responsibly kept within budget and Group Leader is willing to be responsible for any cost related to the decision.
- For new projects and the creation of new workgroups within IBOC the Board of Directors is required to approve general guidelines of procedures by internal consensus, drafting of Contracts or Memorandum of Understanding is necessary for the establishment of independent self-financing Units or Working Groups inside the larger umbrella of IBOC.
- For regular procedural decisions: upon consultation, any member of the related group can submit suggestions for revision of procedure or in extreme case block the decision.
- Seniority based criteria applies to determining individual inclusion into each consensus group. That means that someone new to the group or to the company will be heard during discussions but may not necessarity have the right to participate, delay or block a decision obtained in consensus by a group of seniors who have demosntrated long-term commitment to the mission of the organization.
The consensus-based structure reflects the horizontal administrative strategy chosen as a guiding philosophy by IBOC’s founders. In our experience, the procedure creates a culture where decisions tend to be more thoughtful and sensible and then move quickly through group approval process. The procedure also generates enthusiasm and efficiency in group action during the realization of projects.
For easy reference and cultural adaptation, please refer to these charts:
– In our experience most of the work moves straight from presentation of proposal to approval, sometimes going through minor edits or improvements. If there is a need to modify a proposal to a greater extent it usually means that a time for maturing the project is still required and advisable.
– Here is a more detailed consensus chart:
Who gets to participate in the Consensus decisions?
What about extreme situations of conflict?
- For the sake of transparency and inclusion, Working Groups are generally open for participation for anyone who is interested in the matter. However there are common-sense limitations and restrictions to the extent of participation, especially considering of newcomers, individuals who may be disrupting activities, who may have conflict of interest or whose inclusion may be questioned by the remaining of the group.
- As a general rule, anyone who is invited to participate in consensus discussion should have a right to express an opinion and make suggestion to improve decisions. However, blocking decisions is restricted to senior members who have a record in participation and contributions to the community. If questioned, individuals should have contributed in a positive significant way in order to be included in consensus decision. In other words, blocking decisions that may interfere with realization of projects can only be done with the support from senior members or the leadership of the group.
- About exclusion: In extreme cases the group may decide by consensus on the exclusion of a member who may be behaving in a negative or destructive manner. The excluded member may argue for support but may not block the decision regarding his/her own exclusion from the group.
- About conflict of interest: if an individual is appointed as possibly having a conflict of interest he/she may not participate in the consensus decision. For exemple: In Auditions the precedence is that an Audition committe member may compete for a part in equal conditions as other candidates, but may not participate in the consensus decision for the specific role that he/she is competing for.
- A group may also set up boundaries for expansion: consensus among senior members may establish size limits for a group, or specific qualification to be included in the group and its consensus representatives.
- About situations of extreme division of opinion within a Working Group: If there is an extreme division that no consensus can be reached, the general rule is that action point should be postponed until agreement can be reached. The idea is that consensus should prevent action on points that may be extremely controversial.
- In the case of on going production and fast decisions that need to be made for execution of projects that had previously been put in motion through consensus, then the Leader/s of the Group should take responsibility over practical action points for the completion of the project, in a sensible and responsible manner. In this case the Leadr/s of the group will be held responsible for any added cost, efficiency parameters and consistecy with general actions points aproved by consensus group. When at war or aiming at a deadline, decisions need to be made fast and the leader is responsible for these decisions and the coherence with consensus plan. The guiding principle here should be that stopping a moving train may cause more damage than completing the mission and regrouping for further discussion and then new consensus about next steps at the appropriate time.
- Consensus works best with common-sense.
– Time-based Consensus –
The New York “let’s get it done” adaptation of the consensus decision making process.
• Time-based consensus can only be used in work-groups that already have pre-approved general goals and for decisions that do not imply in cost for IBOC.
• The procedure in also called “communication-based consensus.” or “silent-approval”
• The person responsible for some action point needs to communicate the decision to the group, with an electronic record, email is an accepted form of communication, text messaging is generally not a good way to keep track of the process.
• If there are no responses to the proposed email communication within a week, the point is generally considered approved for action. Fast track 24 hour approval is also accepted as long as the email contains words equivalent to: “If I do not hear back from anyone of the group in 24 hours, these points will be considered approved and we will move into action.’
• “Time-based consensus” or “approval through silence” can never be used to approve expenses and the leader of the group is responsible for the action content of the approval in that it must respect general guidelines of behaviour, ethics and transparency of the company. It must also fit within a general goal that has been approved for action within an existing work-group.
• This procedure can also be used to create records for decisions made through conversations or text-messaging. An email follow up to the conversation must always be sent with text equivalent to: “As we discussed on the phone, here are the points that we agreed on…”
– About “Great ideas”
“When a person gives an idea, she/he should be willing to take leadership, and be responsible for leading the group into producing the conditions for it to happen.”
- This means you need to be able to stand up for your idea, work to generate enthusiasm and the practical means for others to follow.
- It is a procedure originally created to prevent people from giving ideas that create more labour for others, or ideas that are unrealistic to our resources/timeline, or ideas that are just not that great on everyone else’s perspective, while still giving the idea a chance to be expressed and blossom.
- Innovation is great.
- If an idea actually saves labor, then its time has come.
- If it is such an amazing concept that it just must be done, then it should be easy to generate support.
- If it generates cost and labor, then the leader should be willing and able to bring it to life. That usually serves as a first test on the strength of an idea.
- A leader should take ownership of her ideas. If your idea is important, then you should work for it to happen. If your idea is easy and simple, then you should be the first person to put it into practice.
- We must however be careful so that this does not deter the expression of spontaneous thought process. It is just a clear distinction that needs to be established between a thought experiment and an action point that can be approved by group consensus.
- This works from the simplest “Let’s make coffee.” (Easy and practical: Done.)
- To the most extravagant: “Let’s make an opera about the Big Bang.” (Not so easy, let’s talk about it.)
- It also brings back the connection between consensus and common sense: After long meeting someone says “Let’s order dinner. I’ll call the restaurant.” It would be rare to have an objection to that – What a great idea!
- Brainstorming is always encouraged, and a legitimate question to ask is: “Are you willing to be responsible for the implementation of your idea?” You should be the first person to stand behind your own thoughts.
About Consensus within Fiscal Sponsorship contracts:
Fiscal Sponsorship is an agreement that gives total artistic freedom to the sponsored party.
Fiscal Sponsorships are approved based on financial reliability and alignment with IBOC’s mission.
Sponsored organizations need not to comply with Consensus procedure within their core culture.
However, we do encourage a horizontal administration, as it usually leads to more successful and pleasant experiences.