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10 Dec 2020
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Decision Making at isgood

isgood.ai is a network of highly autonomous individuals and teams that cooperate around a shared vision for what they want the company to achieve and how they want to have a positive impact on the world.

Members are the ultimate decision-makers for isgood.ai. While we often delegate decision-making, such as to directors, coordinators, and leaders of work areas, all mandate traces back to the members.

Two important principles inform our decision-making processes: anyone affected by a decision should be able to participate in making it, and a person’s influence over a decision should be in proportion to the degree to which it affects them.

As much as possible, we encourage people to make decisions for themselves in the course of day-to-day work. When decisions are made by a smaller group, we encourage them to take active steps to maintain their mandate from the wider group, and to operate transparently. This is monitored informally.

As isgood.ai is also a network building shared commons, and pursuing shared aspirations, that calls for collective agreements and commitments. There are a variety of situations where it is useful or necessary to make a formal decision as a group. This page details the key mechanisms we use in this instance.

Making Formal Decisions

Anyone can propose a formal decision at any time. We seek open, transparent decision-making and strive to enable the people who are affected by a decision to participate as fully as possible in making it.

By default, to make formal decisions, isgood.ai uses consensus decision-making, a methodology with a specific meaning and practice. Consensus does not mean unanimous agreement or engagement from everyone on all decisions. The key concept is consent (you can live with it), as distinct from agreement (it’s your preference or first choice).

isgood.ai tries to make decisions with the widest possible circle of participants, while recognising the necessity and wisdom of delegating responsibility for certain decisions. In order to enable efficient decision-making, provide clarity to participants, comply with laws, and protect the network, certain other formal decisions are delegated to specific people, groups, or processes other than a consensus decision.

A formal decision is only required whenever there is a significant impact on the network. It is difficult to specify exact criteria for every case, so everyone is encouraged to use their best judgement to balance exercising autonomy with gaining shared understanding.

Formal decisions are needed for the following areas (some with the whole network, some with a subset of people or by a process which has been delegated by an Agreement).

Agreements – creating new rules about how isgood.ai works

Brand – changing the isgood.ai logo and identity or utilizing it in a new context which may affect brand wellbeing.  Eg. Creating new pieces of collateral

Money – spending collective funds or for actions that impact our financial outlook

Tools & Processes – how the network as a whole will work and communicate

Relationships – commitments as a network with individuals or entities (such as invitations to membership, appointing directors, MOUs with ventures or other entities)

Buy-in & Awareness – when seeking a shared sense of ownership and support from the network as a whole

Discussions & Proposals

Decisions are typically preceded by a discussion. This discussion is open, and intended to give people an opportunity to be actively involved in shaping the context of the decision, and to share relevant information and opinions.

After discussion, any participant can raise a proposal, which describes a clear course of action or resolution. Once a proposal has been created, members will state a position. Those positions can be one of the following:

  • YES = you’re happy with the proposal.
  • NO = you think there might be a better alternative, but you’re willing to go with the group’s decision.
  • ABSTAIN = you’re happy for the group to decide without you.
  • BLOCK = you’ve got serious objections and you’ll be extremely unhappy if this proposal goes ahead.

Note: process-wise, members will be given a certain amount of time to state their positions. If a member does not reply, their position is expected to be ‘abstain’.

Blocking

An essential part of our consensus-based decision making model is the possibility to ‘block’ a decision.

At isgood.ai, a single block is typically sufficient to stop a proposal. This places a considerable responsibility on someone blocking to deeply consider their choice, and on everyone involved to respect the right to block and to work toward a resolution.

A decision to block should not be taken lightly, but if you feel strongly about an issue and really want to stop a proposal you actually need to block it, because simply disagreeing or arguing against is not a guarantee that it won’t be passed. Those are the principles to apply when choosing to block:

  •   Place the good of the whole group above your own individual preferences.
  •   You are not required to propose an alternative solution to raise a block, but you must articulate the nature of your block clearly so the group can understand the concern and work toward a resolution.
  •   Simply vetoing a decision is not considered a responsible use of consensus blocking – you must be prepared to work collaboratively to try and reach a resolution, make time for conversations, and to help others understand the issue.
  •   Blocks should only be used in cases where the blocker genuinely believes there is a significant risk of harm to the network, or that the proposal contravenes the fundamental values of isgood.ai.

Note: Blocks by isgood.ai Members are binding. The question of whether blocks by contributors are or should be binding as well is ambiguous, with people in the community feeling strongly both ways. That ambiguity is intentionally left unresolved in this agreement.

Decision Types

The default for all formal decision making in isgood.ai is the Standard Decision.

Standard Decision

Passes as long as there are no blocks

3 working days (5 working days encouraged when possible)

This is the default option and is used for most decisions at isgood.ai. Ensures that no one strongly opposes a course of action, while allowing progress to move forward. If there are a large number of “no”s, it’s strongly advised to work on another iteration to find a better solution, but the proposer may move ahead at their discretion.

Additionally, we have other types of formal decisions for specific circumstances. When using any of the decision types below, it must be clearly specified in the proposal.

Significant Decision

Passes as long as there are no blocks and more than 50% of those stating a position agree

5 working days (10 working days encouraged when possible)

This option should be used for more consequential decisions, such as changes to isgood.ai Agreements.

Quorum Decision

Passes as long as there are no blocks.

Requires at least 75% of all eligible voters to agree or abstain (meaning at least ¾ of all group members must participate)

5 working days (10 working days encouraged when possible)

This option is used when a Special Resolution (as defined in the Constitution) is required

Emergency Decision

Passes even if there are blocks, but requires 75% of those stating a position to agree 10 working days. If faster action is required, the board can exercise its emergency powers.

This option is a safeguard when the normal decision making processes fails. This option is only used in specific circumstances where a minority block would be destructive, such as removing a member, contributor, catalyst or venture from the community or a role.

Decision Culture & Practice

The effectiveness of our decision-making practice depends on our culture. The following principles have been found to be helpful in supporting formal decision-making at isgood.ai.

Your Participation

  • Share your genuine and honest views and opinions.
  • Be succinct and clear in your communication.
  • Modulate the volume of your contributions to leave space for equitable participation from others.
  • Practice empathy and ask questions. Listen to understand, not to find fault.
  • Contribute to discussion and decision making processes without concern that your views/perspectives will be grounds for cessation of membership.
  • Actively engage in order to help the group make progress.
  • Be prepared to have your mind changed – don’t be overly attached to your ideas.
  • Consciously embrace diverse perspectives to reveal blind spots.
  • Ask for help if you are not adequately engaged or don’t understand an issue.

Enriching Engagement

  • Open multiple channels to get well-rounded input.
  • Involve people who are not in your geographical location and those you do not work with regularly.
  • If you encounter tension, conflict, or confusion, escalate communication to a higher bandwidth channel (loomio to chat, chat to video, video to one-on-one, one-on-one to mediation by a third party), and then report outcomes back to the group.
  • Take considered acts of facilitation to improve the experience of the group overall (examples: inviting in those we have not yet heard from, clarifying and summarising points raised, suggesting good timing for a proposal, etc).
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