Why does sociocracy use consent, not consensus?

Sociocracy, also known as dynamic governance, is a system of governance that emphasizes decentralized decision-making and aims to ensure that all members of an organization or group have an equal voice in the decision-making process.

While both consent and consensus are methods used to reach decisions collectively, sociocracy specifically employs the concept of consent rather than consensus. Here’s why:

  1. Efficiency and effectiveness:

Sociocracy recognizes that achieving consensus, which requires complete agreement from all participants, can be time-consuming and sometimes impractical, especially in larger groups or organizations. Consent, on the other hand, focuses on ensuring that decisions move forward as long as there are no reasoned objections. This allows for more efficient decision-making without sacrificing the quality or inclusivity of the process.

  1. Addressing objections:

Consent in sociocracy emphasizes addressing objections rather than seeking agreement. When a proposal is put forward, individuals are given the opportunity to raise objections if they believe the proposal will negatively impact the organization’s aims or violate its values. These objections are taken seriously and must be addressed through discussion and modification of the proposal until there are no remaining reasoned objections. This approach encourages active participation and constructive feedback, leading to more robust decisions.

  1. Distributed authority and accountability:

Sociocracy distributes authority and decision-making power throughout an organization, ensuring that decisions are made by those closest to the issue or task at hand. Consent empowers individuals to make decisions within their domain, while still being accountable to the organization’s broader aims and policies. This decentralized approach promotes engagement and fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility among all members.

  1. Continuous improvement:

Sociocracy values ongoing learning and adaptation. By using consent, decisions are seen as iterative and subject to revision based on new information or changing circumstances. This encourages experimentation and allows for more agile decision-making, enabling organizations to respond to challenges and opportunities in a timely manner.

In summary, sociocracy uses consent instead of consensus to strike a balance between inclusivity, efficiency, and effectiveness.

It values the voices of all participants, encourages constructive feedback, and promotes distributed decision-making authority while maintaining accountability to the organization’s purpose and values.

If you would like to share your comments or personal reflections on this topic, please feel free to do so in a comment below. Thank you.

Best wishes!


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  11. Many Voices One Song – A sociocracy manual

  12. Who Decides Who Decides? - How to start a group so everyone can have a voice!

  13. Let’s decide together - The definitive guidebook for practicing decision-making with children

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