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.
Once you’ve got the hang of the basics of how to use Loomio, you might want to check out this post: 9 Ways To Use A Loomio Proposal To Turn A Conversation Into Action for some creative uses of the proposal function.
Get started with Loomio: loomio.org