Proposal: Co-op Brum Decision Making Process

Here’s a rough decision making process that I have used regularly and like. This will no doubt need tweaking both now and if it is implemented.

Coop Brum Decision Making Process


  • In favour
  • Against
  • Abstain
  • Block

0 voters


In Co-operation Birmingham, we make decisions collectively.

We designed our decision making process using decision making tools we had experienced through participation in various horizontal organisations.

Our decisions can be split intro three categories: Small, Medium and Large.

1) Small - Get on and do the thing

  • No one cares.
  • Made by an individual within the co-op.
  • Could be in any area.
  • Up to individual co-op members to decide if they should just make the decision, or share it with the rest of the co-op to seek consensus.

2) Medium - Consensus pending objections

  • About admin and infrastructure.
  • Doesn’t have an effect on the direction or operation of the co-op.
  • Give a deadline. Unless anyone objects or asks for more time then it passes.
  • The deadline must reasonable (a week by default).
  • If any member of the co-op thinks it’s a Large decision, achieve Maximum Consensus (see below).
  • Medium decision can be escalated to a Large decision by any 2 co-op members.

3) Large - Maximum Consensus

  • Important decisions affecting the operation, direction, working conditions and finances of the co-op.
  • Can be requested by any member of the co-op for any decision.
  • Consensus voting: addressing any concerns.
  • Input sought from all co-op members who might be affected
  • Votes can be in favour, against, abstain (stand aside) or block.
  • One member, one vote.
  • Process continues until there are less than 2 blocks and less than 2 votes against.

Process for Medium and Large decisions:

  1. Write up a proposal
  2. Announce the decision in a thread in the Decisions catergory on the forum.
  3. Create a poll in the forum thread if neccersary for large decisions.
  4. Announce the result in forum thread.

Proposal format

(For Medium and Large decisions)

  • Size (Medium / Large)
  • What you want to change
  • Who it affects
  • Deadline


I'd like to propose (Medium|Large) decision XXX, to write our name as
"Cöööperation Birmingham" in all our public communications.

Deadline for votes is DEADLINE – let me know if you need more time to vote than that.

Poll for voting.

so these two point seem to contradict each other, does it only need to people to to be esscalted to a larg proposal or not?

I also don’t think consensus is a good way of making decisions of orgs that aren’t just small groups so I’m going to block, sorry.

I like the typology of different kinds of decisions is good one though.

1 Like

Thanks for the feeback. I think this proposal will need some serious attention because like you said there’s some typos etc.

It’s not pure consensus for large decisions. There is a majority aspect to it. It’s kinda of based on the default way of making a decision on Loomio. For example if 50 people voted in favour and 49 voted against, it would pass.

Could increasing the percentage of blocks needed to block be something you’d approve of (say 20% of the membership when we have that list)? Or maybe removing blocks altogether?

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I think at this point why are we calling it consensus? it’s just voting. I better thing would be just to establish a quoracy on how many people need to to vote in favour (possibly in terms of percentage of members or just in terms of the mount of people taking part in the vote) for it to pass.

I think the role of “blocks” is a problem for several reasons-

  1. If you’re against something it leaves you options except going nuclear or standing aside and give up on what you think matters - “block or shut up” is a real attitude that develops although often expressed more tactfully and most people don’t want to block as it puts it all on you
  2. At the same time it lets one or in this case two people hold everything up and disrupt everything.
  3. It puts the emphasis on active descent rather than active agreement which in my experience reduces ownership over decisions by members. It creates a in feedback loop where people don’t take part in decision making because “I don’t want to be in the position of being the dickhead that blocks so it doesn’t really matter if I’m there”. So less people engage decision are made by smaller and smaller groups which in turn reinforces the alienation from decision making. - this isn’t the only kind of decision making where this can happen but it I think consensus has it built in to a degree.

Something I do think is good is that there’s a requirement of people that oppose and stopped it to work on trying to make a version that works but also sometimes people will have in compatible ideas on what should be done.


What I miss is a protocol for how is feedback integrated in the proposal. Or actually, what happens with that feedback? I mean, if I make some comments in the voting thread, are the proponents supposed to consider them and potentially include them in the proposal? And how does that affect the voting, especially in terms of time frame? Do we start again? Or could people change their vote?

Maybe we could give some time for feedback, especially for large decisions. And later, when the proponents have considered the suggestions and comments and reworked the proposal (or not), it goes to voting.


Hey folks, so sorry to be absent from this discussion. I was quite ill. I’m going to look at this feedback and possibly repropose a revision of this proposal. It can go through multiple revisions if required.

I’d also propose that we should just try something out and then based our revisions upon what we observe.

Hey I’m down for trying to help with this although I’m not sure how much time I’ll have. I think this might be an interesting/usefull resource

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It occurs to me that though we have basically been using this process it still has the unresolved issues identified previously, by @nick and @Sergio in particular. I’m interested in sorting it out for good - would anyone else like to work on it with me?

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I am interested in working on this!

Me too! I feel like asynchronous decission making via forum proposals is the best option currently anyhow, in terms of people being able to access it as the project is has been at a low ebb of engagement.

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I think we just need to tweak what’s in place right now. I feel like the problems peeps have identified haven’t really happened so maybe we just go over it and clean it up a bit.

But just to be clear, I am in a successful worker co-operative of about 20 people using this decision making process and we are doing fine: