Making decisions by consensus – how?

Decision-making according to the consensus principle is one of four basic principles of sociocracy or the sociocratic circle organization method (SCM). SKM is, on the one hand, an organizational model that supports the management of dynamic corporate processes. It can be understood as an extension or an alternative to the pyramid-shaped line organization and its top-down decision-making processes. It enables every member of an organization or team to be equally involved in decision-making processes.

The four basic principles of sociocracy are:

Consent as the prevailing principle for decision-making (no justified serious objection).
A circle structure overlays the existing line structure. The circles make their fundamental decisions autonomously within their boundaries (circle principle).
There is a double linkage between circles in that at least two people attend circle meetings each time: a functional leader (manager) and at least one delegate (double linkage principle).
Circle participants select people by consensus for functions and tasks (sociocratic election).

Through these four basic principles, a deeper sense of responsibility develops that takes the whole system into account. Through the purposeful influence of all group members, power is distributed equally among all. There are no winners and losers. The decisions have a high acceptance and are carried together. Since arguments become more important than power, an appreciative and supportive team spirit develops. The election of circle participants creates a high level of motivation when taking on tasks and projects.

The consensus principle or the no-objection principle

Sociocracy is a compound of the Latin “socius” (companion) and the Greek “kratein” (to govern) and stands for a form of leadership that assumes the equality of individuals. The most important principle is that a decision is made only if none of those present has an objection with serious arguments. This principle is called the “consensus principle” (no-objection principle). Fixed question rounds ensure that everyone gets involved and anchor co-determination in the group or the organization as a whole.

As a result, individuals are given more decision-making power than in a democracy, where the majority of votes count. Sociocracy is the power of argument rather than the power of the majority. Now, however, not every decision has to be made by consensus. In paxis, it has proven effective to make important fundamental decisions with the help of the consensus principle and to delegate the operational decisions of day-to-day business to the executives.