Making a decision with Loomio 1.0

The process of making a decision that Loomio enables is actually really simple: bring people together to talk things through, share ideas, address any concerns, and determine a clear course of action that works for everyone.

Loomio Beta is great – the core of the decision-making process works really well. But it still has a few barriers which make it hard to use for certain types of groups and decisions. If we really want to spread collaborative decision-making, it has to be the easiest thing in the world.

So for Loomio 1.0, we’ve examined and removed each barrier to entry.

Straight to the action

You can start a decision directly from the homepage and you don’t even need an account. It’s super simple:

Start a decision

Start by saying what is you want to decide about.

Log in using single sign-on (e.g. Google, Facebook, or Persona), or if you don’t want to create an account you can just put in your name and enter an email address to stay up to date.

Bring the right people in

This is the decision page: you can see the topic at the top of the page, and then a list of who’s involved. To start with, you’re the only one there, so you can get everything set up the way you want, and add people in when you’re ready.

Decision page 1

Add participants by clicking “Share” and entering their emails, or copying and pasting the link and send it to them.

You can also add existing Loomio groups to the decision, and everyone in the group will be able to participate.

Discuss the options

Once people have joined the discussion, they can start commenting and suggesting ideas. This is the initial brainstorming part of a decision-making process.

Decision page 2

Click ‘like’ on any idea that sounds good to you.

This is an easy way to get a ‘temperature check’ to see how the group feels about the different options.

You can have a discussion right here on the page, to work out any details. This solves the major problem with online polls and surveys, where you can only select from pre-determined options, and there’s no place to discuss alternatives.

Converge on a solution

Once an idea is looking favourable and you’re ready to make a decision, anyone can start a proposal. This will notify everyone involved and give them the opportunity to have their say.

Decision page 3

Here’s the default set of decision options (we’ll be adding plugins for different styles of decision-making):

agree – I think this sounds good
abstain – I’m happy for the group to decide without me
disagree – I think we can do better
block – I have really serious concerns

This set of four options came directly from our experience of collective decision-making at Occupy. We’ve found this protocol to work well in all kinds of groups. There’s more nuance than a simple yes/no binary, but it’s simple enough to be really easy to grasp.

The decision is made

When the proposal closes, you can set an outcome, so every discussion comes to a really clear conclusion.

Decision page 4

An online home for your group

Once you’ve made a decision with a bunch of people, you can set up a group to keep track of your decisions for the future.

Group page

Setting up a group gives you an online home. All the decisions you’ve made together are kept in a tidy archive, and you can tailor the look and feel to match your group identity. There are no ads, so it actually feels like a nice place to have an online meeting, rather than a shopping mall.

Because it’s built in HTML5, this will work on any web-capable device: laptop, tablet, smartphone, whatever. And it’s open source free software, so the code is there for anyone to improve.

Now let’s build it!

We’re pretty excited about these designs. They’ve developed based on the feedback of thousands of users, and some deep thinking from experts in user experience, group dynamics, and open mobile technology. The designs are sure to evolve as they get built and tested, but we’re confident this is already a huge step up from the prototype, Loomio Beta.

We think that making online decision-making ridiculously simple can transform the way people relate to each other at every level of society, and fundamentally improve the decisions that get made.

Now we just have to build it!

The thing is, we can’t do this without you. If you think this should exist, check out our crowdfunding campaign, throw $25 in the pot, and get early access to Loomio 1.0!

Author: Richard D. Bartlett

Loomio co-founder; open source hardware and software hacker; activist;

7 thoughts on “Making a decision with Loomio 1.0”

  1. Super excited about Loomio!

    One thing I don’t understand is the “propose” function: how is it different from adding a new “idea”, and why is it nested under “idea”s?

    1. Hi Peter glad to hear you’re excited too! It’s great to have your support.

      “Ideas” are a new feature for us, so it may evolve rapidly. The intention is to provide a lightweight way to collect different options together, and get an informal sense of how the group feels about each one. A proposal is a weightier thing: you can only have one proposal open at a time, and converting an idea to a proposal sends everyone a notification inviting their input. It’s a way of saying “We should adopt this policy” or “We should pursue this course of action.” It’s a tool for testing consensus.

      Make sense?

  2. Reblogged this on focusonstrengthsBlog and commented:
    Really promising development that will facilitate engaged decision making in a truly democratic way. With a bit of luck we could eventually do away with all the politicians and the lobbyists that support them. It gives me hope for the future.

  3. Fantastic! I’ve been imagining a tool just like this as well. (If I’d been a software designer, I probably would have developed it as well, so I’m happy you did.) One thought I had – in case you didn’t, and want to use it – is to have most frequently visited decisions (within a group) pop to the top of the screen so you can have live prioritization which changes as a group finishes projects. Alternatively, this could be based on having options to vote: this is a top priority for problems or solutions attached to them (and recently voted on decisions pop to the top). I was thinking of the tool being useful for things like mobilizing populations around best climate change solutions and for groups in organizations to decide on things that would help their workplace be more human etc. I was thinking an option to upload information/research/documents as part of a suggestion would also be useful (and possibly displaying someone’s credentials if they’re expert on the subject). Thanks for doing this! Great contribution to the world!

    1. Hey thanks for the kind words and great suggestions Andy!

      As the traffic builds in any group it’s always a challenge to sort through all the content and highlight the most important stuff – without squashing out the rest! So I imagine we’ll be playing with a lot of different strategies for sorting/filtering/prioritising content.

      Right now the focus is on relatively small groups (less than 1000 people). We’re really looking forward to seeing how this platform scales to bigger and bigger groups!

      FYI you can currently upload documents to comments on Loomio, but we certainly can do more to support rich content :)

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