More efficient in-person meetings with Loomio

Working efficiently as a group is complex. Part of the puzzle is to find a balance between in-person meetings  and online collaboration. Meetings are costly, but they allow for rich information transfer. Online collaboration allows everyone to contribute in their own time, but there are plenty of conversations you don’t want to have online. With the right balance, you can get the best of both worlds.

During an in person meeting, discussing an Agenda Item ideally goes something like:
discussion turns into action

  1. Someone presents the Agenda Item
  2. Others weave in additional detail
  3. Discussion converges to a clear Action Point

We record Action Points with: name of the agreed action; person responsible; and maybe a due date

It’s not uncommon for discussion to raise points outside of the scope of a meeting, or to lead to complexity that can’t be resolved within the allocated time. If you can notice this happening, then you can respect this complexity and peoples time, by clearly recording the details and pushing discussion and decision making out to Loomio.

discussion in person discussion moves online

  1. Someone presents the Agenda Item
  2. Others weave in additional detail
  3. A Facilitator notices burgeoning complexity, and asks “Does this sound like a Loomio?”
  4. The group agrees to move the topic to Loomio, where it can be discussed asynchronously

It’s a good idea for the Loomio to be held by one or more people interested in the problem. This group can also facilitate great decision-making by resolving a clearer context. This might involve gathering data, seeking expert advice, or preparing a range of recommendations.

Once you’ve got a clear outcome, you can take that to the next team meeting. Online offline flow might look like this:
In person discussion goes to loomio and then back to meeting

  1. The team gathers for a meeting, and works through some Agenda Items. The second item can’t be resolved in the meeting so it’s decided to push it out to Loomio. The meeting ends.
  2. Relevant members engage with the discussion on Loomio, and come to a decision or recommendation
  3. The team meets again in person. The results of the discussion are fed back to the team.

Design for Developers

how to make a good app without wearing a turtleneck

Rich has been doing a lot of design work for Loomio lately. Today he hosted a session at Enspiral Space to explain his design process.

The presentation was primarily targeted at an audience of software developers, but will interest anyone looking for an insight into how software design works.

The recording includes a 30 minute presentation from Rich, followed by Q&A.

Slides available here.

Resources mentioned in the talk:

Peter’s notes from the session:
Peter's notes

Derek’s notes from the session.

Feel free to reach out to Rich on Twitter: @richdecibels

Heaps of exciting news from Loomio HQ :)

A quick update from Rich at Loomio HQ to let you know how things are going.

More than 86,000 people have joined Loomio, making more than 28,000 decisions in nearly 100 countries, so it’s feeling like we’re really starting to have some impact in the world!


At the end of last year we announced the first “early access” to the new version of the software (Loomio 1.0) to crowdfunding backers. Since then a big focus of the work has been on accessibility: we’re working with an international community of people with different disabilities to make sure Loomio 1.0 is going to be the most accessible discussion platform on the web.

Here’s me talking about how we’re making Loomio work for blind people

This has been a tremendous experience for me personally, especially learning how blind people navigate the web and how a small effort on the part of people building technology can make a huge difference to some people’s quality of life.

Heading for launch…

We’re progressively bringing more and more people onto the new software, iteratively improving the usability of the platform with each new batch. We’re working towards a public launch date later this year, which will be a major push to announce ourselves to the world in a big way.

We want to be in a financially sustainable position before we invite millions of people to get on board. To that end, we’ve been developing relationships with impact foundations in the US who support social good projects like this. Nothing is signed yet, but I can say we’re feeling optimistic about our prospects :)

Advisory Council


We’re also supremely honoured and excited to introduce our Advisory Council, some of the brightest minds in democracy and tech internationally:

Travel stories

A man walking down a narrow alley in Taiwan
Photo credit: Yuwei Liu / 劉毓惟

One of the benefits of doing this work is that we get invited to talk to all kinds of different groups around the world.

Here’s Alanna talking introducing Loomio to the Mix Mashup in New York, a gathering of “management innovators—pioneering leaders, courageous hackers, and agenda-setting thinkers from every realm of endeavor.”

And while Alanna was in the States talking to the management innovation community, I was in Taiwan talking to some young radicals about the future of democracy. Here’s a blog post and video from my trip.

And finally here’s Ben at the Skoll World Forum, discussing the Future of Work on a panel with Bettina Warburg from the Institute for the Future and David Jones from Microsoft. It highlights a very interesting divergence between Loomio’s vision of the future where people can use open source technologies to co-create a more sustainable equitable world, and Microsoft’s vision of a future where proprietary software makes the status quo a little more convenient.

Thank you so much for supporting this vision! It’s an ambitious journey, but it’s great to know we’re travelling together with such an amazing community of supporters like you.

♥ with infinite love and gratitude,

from Rich, on behalf of the whole Loomio Co-op

Turning a Conference into a Movement with Loomio

The Equally Well Summit brought people from diverse backgrounds together to discuss a critical problem. Loomio enabled engaging participants prior to, during, and after the conference – helping turn talk into action.

In November 2014 the first Equally Well Summit was held in Wellington, New Zealand. The Summit brought more than 100 people together from a range of disciplines in the mental and physical health sectors to tackle a “wicked problem”: the poor physical health experienced by people who experience mental illness or addiction issues.
Equally Well Logo
Equally Well needed to engage collective wisdom to form cross-sector solutions. The challenge was to break down silos and connect diverse participants in creating actionable outcomes. Participants included people with lived experience of mental and physical health challenges, psychiatrists, policy makers, healthcare professionals, NGO chief executives, and researchers.

We see powerful potential in thinking beyond just hosting a conference, and toward sparking a movement and nurturing a community to support this urgent work.

Helen Lockett, Project Leader, Equally Well
Helen Lockett, Project Leader, Equally Well

Working with Loomio, the Equally Well team invited participants to connect online prior to the Summit using a short personal video introduction from Helen. At the Summit, Loomio was used to create an online meeting space complementing the event.

A Loomio group enabled the diverse stakeholders to come together before the Summit, progress their thinking and mutual understanding, discuss what the focus of sessions at the Summit should be, and create a foundation for a community that can continue after the Summit – supporting real ongoing collaboration and change. It was great to see the Loomio conversations emerge and the priorities for action developed.

In response to the personal video invitation, 93 of 120 participants logged into Loomio prior to the Summit. They built shared understanding of the problem: the poor physical health of people experiencing mental illness. Using facilitated peer-to-peer communication, the newly emerging community  developed a sense of urgency to take action together.
Equally Well Loomio GroupHaving diverse voices in the discussion brought out ‘‘elephants in the room” – topics people usually avoid talking about. The group shared perspectives and expertise, collaboratively identified issues, and and generated energy and motivation through shared purpose. Because the community was already in communication online, they arrived at the conference with deeper shared understanding of the issues.

The conversation didn’t end when the conference concluded. The problems this community is tackling will require ongoing collaboration. The conference brought together a purposeful community, and Loomio is helping them continue as a movement and take action together.

Key Learnings

  • Online tools can make offline events more effective, especially for diverse stakeholders and complex issues
  • The invitation is important – setting the context and welcoming participants makes a big difference
  • Co-creating content with conference participants can unlock new levels of collaboration
  • Building an online community allows people to come together before and after an event, helping it be so much more than a one-off experience
  • Moving from talk to action requires ongoing communication and collaboration – this is what can turn a conference into a movement

g0v Summit 2014: Taiwan and the future of democracy

gov summit

Loomio co-founder Richard D. Bartlett asks ‘what is the government of the future?’

I had the immense honour of being invited to participate in the g0v Summit in Taipei last year. The Summit was basically a chance for 700 people to get together and discuss the future of democracy, and hack on some projects that might help us get there faster.

Here’s a video of my talk, describing some of my experiences over the past couple years and reflecting on the question: what is the government of the future? (Transcript printed below.)

It was a huge privilege to collaborate with a wide array of amazing people and organisations that I had admired from afar, like the activists from the Sunflower Movement that occupied Parliament in Taiwan; occupiers from the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong; Clay Shirky, academic, author, and speaker; the mySociety crew, who basically invented the idea of civic tech in the UK ten years ago; respectable troublemaker David Eaves; and of course Audrey Tang and Chia-liang Kao, some of the prominent figures of the g0v community.

Of course it was a great opportunity to meet new collaborators from all over the world too, like Ciudadano Inteligente from Chile, Team Popong in Korea, Sinar in Malaysia and Open State in the Netherlands.

Photo credit: g0v

Using a combination of online technology and offline agitation, each of these projects push for greater transparency, accountability, and participation in government for regular citizens. It was delightful to see this highly distributed, autonomous network of projects all approaching this challenge with a high degree of coherence, and very little explicit coordination.

In addition to working with these great people, I also got the chance to learn a bit more about the political context in Taiwan from some of the young radicals, jaded journalists, suave diplomats and community organisers I spent time with. Continue reading g0v Summit 2014: Taiwan and the future of democracy

Loomio is Co-Hosting the Open Source // Open Society Conference

Loomio is co-hosting the Open Source // Open Society conference, April 16/17 in Wellington, New Zealand, alongside GitHub, Chalkle, and Enspiral. Get your ticket and join us at the event!

We are extremely excited about this event because openness is a defining aspect of everything Loomio is about. Our mission is to enable a more open world, where transparency and accessibility in decision-making is the new normal. The work of being open is never finished, but openness has been one of our key values right from the start.

The question of the conference is What is Open?:

The recent move towards openness in the digital world was enabled by the Internet, as the most powerful communications infrastructure that has ever existed, which was built on free and open source software. This digital movement taps into the underlying human urge for openness that has always existed. OS/OS is a celebration of efforts to consciously reverse practises that deny people the right to share, to participate, to collaborate. We celebrate “the commons”, both physical and virtual, and work to improve commonly-held resources that benefit all.

Loomio’s software is of course open source (fork us on GitHub!). We have also open sourced our internal company handbook, about how we organise democratically as a worker-owned cooperative. We practice open collaboration with our enthusiastic user community, seeking their input on everything from new feature development to our financial model. We are open about our story and our roadmap.

OSOS Invitation Image

Continue reading Loomio is Co-Hosting the Open Source // Open Society Conference

Priority-setting in a human-centred organisation

This is the first article in our Cultural Technology series, where we share practices for working in a networked organisation. This is very much a work in progress but we hope it’s valuable to share what we’re learning.

Yesterday we had our first Away Day of the year.

We have an Away Day every 3 months, where we get out of the office for a day to review the past quarter and plan the next one.

brainstorm Continue reading Priority-setting in a human-centred organisation