Many food councils consider policy work as a critical function. Policy work requires agreement across the group. Diversity across council membership results in many different viewpoints.
An inclusive, consent-based decision-making process is recommended.
A climate of inclusion is an important feature of successful councils. An inclusive process:
- Honors diversity of council membership by enabling voices to be truly heard.
- Creates space in the conversation for the quiet voices.
- Builds alignment, which fosters synergy.
- Holds space for differing views, which sparks innovation.
- Improves understanding of each other’s role, which builds social capital.
Successful councils empower members to take action. A consent-based process:
- Rises above compromise to find win-win solutions.
- Holds creative tension, which allows for group genius.
- Ensures decisions that everyone can live with.
- Contributes to a climate of inclusion.
- Creates a stronger sense of cohesion within the group.
What else should you consider?
Respect people’s time. Many council members volunteer their time to participate. An inclusive, consent-based decision-making process needs to also be efficient.
Take the time needed. When looking for efficiency, consider both the time to decide AND to implement. When decision-making is rushed, without inclusion or full consent, problems often arise later, resulting in delays and frustration, and possibly expense. Including inclusion and full consent in decision-making may seem like it takes longer, but ultimately it yields better results and easier implementation.
People support what they help create. The more ownership members feel over decisions, the stronger they align themselves with the council. The more members align with the council, the further it can go toward accomplishing its goals.
Tools and Resources
The following tools and resources are helpful when choosing a decision-making process.
- Decision Making Processes
- Consensus vs. Consent
- Consent for Decision-Making in Agile Organizations
- Open Decision-Making
- Community – The Structure of Belonging – Book
- Creating Change through Consent and Connectedness – Audio Interview