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Decision Making Processes

Seedlings on Windowsill

Clear, and easy decision making is useful at any stage of network or council development. Develop a method of making decisions that works for ease of confusion when there is a lot of work to cover in a single meeting.

Here is are some examples that are successfully used with organizing groups and food councils.


Excerpt below adapted from Tracy Kunkler, Dynamic Governance Institute

Decisions require consent from every member of the group.  For example, while you may prefer everyone come to a meeting, you can live with or consent to members missing a certain number of meetings, but cannot tolerate or consent if members do not come to most meetings.

Rounds / Pass

Excerpt below adapted from Tracy Kunkler, Dynamic Governance Institute

Instead of relying on each person to ‘take’ the floor, allow each person to speak in turn (aka round).  Anyone who does not wish to speak may ‘Pass’.

  • Ensure everyone is offered the floor equally.
  • Tap the intelligence and creativity of the whole group, rather than just dominant voices.
  • Give people a chance to reflect before speaking.
  • Work best in groups of less than 12.
  • Facilitator sets the context: what is the topic, how long is everyone anticipated to speak, the facilitator will bring the group back to the round if we digress, and we will do as many rounds as needed to get everyone’s input.
  • You are invited and encouraged to pass if you do not wish to add anything.
  • Within your range of tolerance; or
  • What you can live with; or
  • No ‘reasoned or paramount’ objections.

Thumbs Up

Several organizing groups have modified the above concepts and use a visual signal of consent to move decision-making along.

  • Thumbs Up – Support
  • Thumbs Sideways – Indifferent, consent granted
  • Thumbs Down – Do not support – consent not given

If anyone gives anything other than “Thumbs Up”, the group conducts a reaction round where everyone can say what they are thinking.  From here, a new proposal is made.