About the same time as we started Loomio, a group of us also set up 17 Tory St: an “Open Source Community Gallery”.
In the last three years, hundreds of events have been held in the space, covering a huge diversity of noncommercial uses: political meetings, art exhibitions, massage classes, paint-making workshops, film nights + many, many more.
Using Loomio to manage the space means we can provide this extraordinary volunteer-run community venue, without ever having to get together for boring meetings.
For the last few months, we’ve been progressively bringing more and more people over from Loomio Beta onto the new Loomio user interface. As of tomorrow, all new user accounts will start on the new interface.
Check out the photo gallery for examples for all 9 ways:
1. Consensus Finder
If the comments seem to point to general agreement, test this assumption by proposing agreement explicitly. If you don’t reach consensus immediately, you’ll often find that a better solution is self-evident, once people have had a chance to clearly state their objections.
2. Uncover the Controversy
If there are two or more clear competing ideas, propose supporting one to reveal how the group feels about it, or if the split has been accurately understood. Controversial topics will almost always require a series of proposals to build shared understanding.
3. Series of Small Yes’s
Sometimes it helps to agree principles first, then get into agreeing the details. If the discussion reveals complexity, break down the issue into smaller parts and build shared understanding piece by piece so you can clear the parts you have agreement on and focus on the parts the group still wants to discuss.
4. Silent Majority
If there have been few comments, or comments only from a select few people, start a proposal to draw out all the voices. You may end up confirming the status quo, but by asking for explicit input, you’ll see if agreement emerges or if engagement brings up the deeper issues.
5. Engagement Check
Sometimes you need everyone in your group to complete an action, such as reading a document before an important meeting. You can start an Engagement Check proposal as a way to remind people to complete the required action within a defined time period.
6. Polarising Minority
Raise a proposal in line with what the majority seem to agree with, and reveal the fact that disagreeing parties are in the minority. Give them a chance to clearly state their objections, or to realise their position is not supported by others and reconsider.
7. Window of Opportunity
Have you heard the phrase, “speak now or forever hold your peace”? The Window of Opportunity proposal is a way to say, “I’m going to take this action, so if you have anything to contribute, now is the time.” It can be a way to discover important information or reservations before it’s too late, and to get a mandate to move forward.
8. Temperature Check
Sometimes you have a hunch, but you’re not sure if it is a good idea or not. Use a Temperature Check when you want to survey opinions, rather than advocate for a particular position.
9. Any Volunteers?
Raise a proposal which asks for people to say “yes” if they are keen to be part of making it happen. This will give you a list of people to follow up with to form a working group, which ensures the conversation will actually turn into action.
That’s 9 ways that we use Loomio proposals – if you’ve got another one to share it would be great to hear from you :)
Now that spring is rolling in, we’re poking our heads up like daffodils and looking ahead to a sunny future. Last week we held an excellent strategy-crafting session as a team, which you can read about here. We’ve been thinking about how the new Loomio fits in with the wider ecosystem of collaboration tools:
And here’s a couple of stories from further afield:
ABC News recently screened this incredible story (video + transcript) about the young radicals in Spain who occupied city squares in 2011 and have now made their way into the city halls: Yes We Can!
Loomio has been a small but significant part of this new political moment in Spain. It’s so inspiring to see friends of ours taking the energy of the streets and using it to revitalise the democratic institutions in that country.
That’s it for another issue of Loomio News, have a great week!
❤ much love from Rich
on behalf of the whole Loomio whānau
Here in the Loomio team, we have been using Loomio since it was only a pie graph with buttons, and we’ve learnt a few things along the way.
Here are some of our favourite tips for making the most of the tool, taking your group from discussing issues & ideas to forming perspectives and getting into action.
Make sure everyone is on the same page:
Every discussion thread should start with all the context-setting information that your group needs to meaningfully participate. Use the thread context section to provide relevant background so everyone understands the purpose of the discussion.
Stay on topic:
Notice when people are going off topic and, if necessary, create separate discussion threads for topics that diverge from the core discussion. Don’t be afraid to @mention people to keep the conversation on track.
Agree on process: Ensure everyone understands your group’s decision-making process. For some groups, this can be very informal and not tightly defined. Other groups find it useful to specify the level of agreement needed for a proposal to pass, e.g. 80% of members need to agree.
Use proposals flexibly: You can use proposals to get engagement, test ideas, and clarify an issue, even if the solution might not be apparent yet. Don’t be afraid to run a ‘temperature check’ proposal to test how the group feels about something. Check out this post for some creative ways to use proposals: 9 Ways To Use A Loomio Proposal To Turn A Conversation Into Action
Be specific about the decision being made: When starting a proposal be as specific as you can, so everyone knows what it means to agree or disagree. If appropriate, include information on who will execute a proposal, not just what the proposal is.
Set proposal deadlines consciously: Think about when you need the decision to be made, and how the proposal closing time will affect engagement from your group members e.g. you might want to time the proposal so it closes before a meeting, or avoid closing on a weekend. You can always extend the closing date if need be.
Use blocks sparingly: You and your group can define for yourselves what a block means in your context. For most groups using Loomio, a block is used to indicate a serious objection that a person would like to see addressed. For some groups (particularly small consensus-based groups), the block is used as a veto.
Bear in mind that not everyone needs to participate in everything: Sometimes there’s power in simply knowing that your voice would be heard if you wanted to raise it. Using “abstain” can be a powerful way to demonstrate your trust in the rest of the group to make the decision without you.
Focus on the outcome: When your proposal closes, you’ll be prompted to set a proposal outcome. You can use this as a way to remind the whole group what you agreed to do together.
Everyone loves a well-facilitated discussion! There are lots of little things you can do to help a discussion get to a productive outcome. Notice when the same voices are dominating the discussion and invite some of the quieter people to contribute by @mentioning them and asking them what they think. You can make a complex discussion easier to engage with by updating the thread context section with a summary of the key points.
Now I’m wondering, how does this kind of leadership grow? What conditions does it need to sprout? How do you nurture it? What does its development look like? How can I grow further as a leader in an organisation with no ladder to climb?
“Do you have favorite lessons from being a professional Cat Herder? I’m working in a flat, collaborative group, but I’ve realized that by jumping in to save the day all the time I am establishing myself as the point of control. People instinctively go to me instead of the group at large with ideas and problems. Now I’m worried that if I step back, our plans could fall through.”
Leadership is the force that guides people to achieve desired outcomes through coordinated effort. It doesn’t require a boss.
My friend is running into trouble precisely because she has leadership skills, but in our society we aren’t really taught how to apply leadership outside of hierarchy.