A group stands or falls on the quality of its decision-making. Some decisions are trivial; some appear trivial in the moment but loom large later on (or the reverse); some are so clearly fraught with consequence that a misstep here could doom the whole enterprise.
So if participation and collaboration are among the values shared by your group, you’re going to spend a lot of time and energy making decisions.
With that thought in mind, the Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC) recently took a look at systems to support decision making. After all, as they point out, it’s not always possible to gather everyone in the same place at the same time. And then you find
yourselves asking: “Do we have enough people in attendance to make this decision? Can people weigh in by e-mail if they can’t be at the meeting? What if the person who came up with the proposal is absent?”
Most decision-support software has evolved as business tools, unsurprisingly, and may require some ‘translation’ to work for a co-housing group. FIC looked at sociocracy, and Loomio, two powerful and worthy systems.
But my favourite, by far, not least for its surpassingly cool demo, is Consider.it, a tool that dares to ask the question: Should we admit the Death Star into the Galactic Federation? Each member of your group can add their pros and cons to the discussion, then rank their overall support or opposition to the idea.
“I don’t trust its manager, Darth Vader,” reads one of the cons. I think he has unresolved daddy issues.” But, counters a pro, “The Death Star and the Sith have limitless resources.”
The pros and cons are arranged in an intuitive visual that lets you easily explore who said what and engage in threaded conversations about any individual item.
I don’t think you’d necessarily want to use Consider.It (or any other formal tool) all the time. That would feel to me like too much energy going into process for most, relatively trivial decisions.
But when you’re facing a potentially world-ending question like whether to get in bed with the Death Star, you need all the help you can get. Besides, did I mention it’s really cool?