"Buy-in" vs. Consent/Objections

Here’s a situation that we’re in - I’d like to hear what you’d all do in this scenario…


A large part of our organisation’s value is in working out a structure of circles that can be copied as a template for new geographical areas that want to launch as part of our co-operative. The structure supports a strong operational system that operates in a regulated (as in legally) environment. We haven’t worked out what this template is yet. This part of our co-op is still “on the journey” to a more authentic sociocratic structure until we figure out the template.

The next big iteration for figuring out what this template is has a proposal that’s been published and is out for comments/objections from people in the existing circles. It’s quite a big change and will affect many people across lots of circles.


An in-person meeting with the affected persons is very difficult to organise because there are so many people involved. We want to balance the pragmatism of objecting to the proposal, whilst also making sure that everyone understands and buys into the changes that are coming up; all without the convenience of our usual meeting-oriented tools. What techniques might we use to balance the two?

Hi @equalmatt

A possible sequence to go forward with everyone, not syncronously, could be to:

  1. prepare a presentation (video, pdf, whatever) of the proposal.
  2. Send a message to everyone about the proposal and a designated time to receive questions.
  3. Collect and reply to questions.
  4. Allow some time to receive objections.
  5. Re-work the proposal until objections are integrated.
  6. Repeat until no objections appear.

Celebrate. :wink:

What do you think about this? Does it helps to spawn other possibilities?


Hey @eduardo.mercovich - great suggestions!

Everything sounds great and mirrors what we were thinking of. The difficult part that we’re finding, and what my question was trying to address in more detail, is steps 2-4. The hard part is the balance between the “designated time” and “some time” for questions and objections; too short and we risk leaving people without a chance to contribute, too long and we risk leaving those that have contributed feeling disaffected (and the opportunity loss of not implementing the change - assuming it’s a well-received proposal). This is exacerbated by the large number of people involved in this change - both their availability and feeling of responsibility towards contributing varies wildly.

I wonder if anyone has any ideas about approaching the large group… For example, we were toying with ideas like: offering 1-1 sessions for anyone that had questions but didn’t want to raise them in a large group setting, offering drop-in sessions, creating specific chat channels etc. They all have pros/cons.

I can’t define the times because I don’t know the organization and/or it’s folxs, but what I thought about questions and objections is to collect them during a period, and work them once in real time. In this way, everyone has time to think and put it’s part, and show up when the work is being done (if it’s their intention or interest to do so). :slight_smile:

It sounds like a big policy decision that affects a lot of people across the organization. Sociocracy is designed for small group decision-making with groups that have work to do in an efficient and equitable manner

I agree with the suggestion that this requires a relaxed consultation. Big groups are always resistant to big changes.

I have just discovered loomio which seems to be designed for asynchronous voting on issues involving larger numbers of people. I am interested in learning more about tools for democratic decision making For large groups .

I have a question on this part:
“…a proposal that’s been published and is out for comments/objections from people in the existing circles. It’s quite a big change and will affect many people across lots of circles.”

I am not clear whose domain this proposal is in. Can you describe the VMA and domain of the circle in which this proposal was put forward? Normally that circle would have the delegated authority to decide on the proposal.

It sounds however like this proposal has been somehow put in the domain of “everyone in existing circles.” Meaning, I think from only what you write, everyone in the organization?

I am asking because although you can certainly try this experiment, it’s not structurally a sociocratic approach.
Unless you do have a “circle of all members” defined, and this decision is in that circle’s domain.

My point being, a ‘solution’ here may be to clarify/redefine the domain of this decision, rather than looking for strategies for how to include everyone in all circles in the consent process.

If it is in the domain of “circle of all members” and everyone has power of consent, then an asynchronous approach as mentioned can work. The challenge is exactly as you say, steps 2-4 in the suggestion given.

One way I frame dealing with issues of timely response, etc. is the difference between being ‘nice’ and being ‘real’ about parameters for those steps. Everyone in a sociocratic organization has a responsibility to the whole. This includes giving timely responses to asynchronous processing, as requested by the framers of a proposal, assuming the parameters are ‘reasonable’ - which might mean “good enough for this step, safe enough to accept” in this context.
If someone does not respond in the allotted time, that is their responsibility.
It is not the responsibility of everyone else to make an exception for them (to be ‘nice’), but rather to allow them to experience consequences of their self-responsibility (to be ‘real’).