We encourage everyone to raise Objections against existing agreements and activity any time. Handling such objections isn’t always an easy tasks though.
A deeper look at Objections and why they are important can be found here.
Not all arguments raised are Objections. It usually helps to ask again "and why do you think isn’t good enough for now or safe enough to try, until the next review"? When doing so, this usually reveals valuable Concern, we can document for a future review of the agreement.
Objections to proposed Agreements#
During Consent Decision Making Objections prevent a Proposal from becoming an Agreement. Objections should be seen as a gift to make proposals better and not as way to block or prevent something - we amend the proposal to make it better and resolve the Objection. In rare cases it can also mean to go back and try to understand or assign the proposal differently.
Objections to existing Agreements or Activities#
If it’s clear which agreement or what Responsibility this activity falls into you can do one of the following:
- Talk in the next Meeting of the accountable delegate circle about this or add it to their agenda
- Talk to someone who knows the agreement or the responsibility on what to do.
In most cases, this should be a trigger to do a Review of the agreement in question.
Formats and Strategies to resolve Objections#
There is actually only one Format we found effective in most cases: Meet and discuss with the Objector, writers and other people who where involved in creating the Proposal. During these meetings there are multiple options to deal with objections:
A. Revise content#
The most obvious way to resolve an Objection would be to revise or ammend the content of the Proposal. This can usually be done right in the meeting, or if more time is needed by the proposal writers and the Objector in a separate meeting where then the revised proposal is shown to all of the circle members again.
B. Shorten the term#
If there is an objection to a proposal, one option to move forward is to shorten the term. If a circle member objects to a proposal, would he or she be willing to consent to trying it out for 3 months? Oftentimes, this makes it easier for circle members to consent.
Shortening the term of a proposal naturally comes with the intention to revisit the agreement after the term is up. We will then see whether the agreement brought the negative changes that one or more circle members were predicting which will enable us to make changes — either back to the original plan or to another option.
Shortening the term of a policy is what increases the organization’s willingness to experiment and innovate. It works best in combination with the next strategy, measure the concern.
C. Measure the concern#
What does that mean? It means that we go ahead and try something (with everyone’s consent) but we put a measurement in place so that we don’t just hope for the best but actually know what the impact of our policy is.
For instance, picture a non-profit that is debating reducing costs by sending out the non-profit newsletter only once a month instead of every other week to save money, and someone objects. What is the concern? That the click rate on the website might go down? That donations might decrease? How could we find out? We can ask the objector: if we closely monitor the click rates and donations coming in, how long are you willing to try this for? We might include in our policy that click-rates and donations are tracked, for 3 months, and if they fall under a certain threshold, the policy needs to be reviewed immediately. If there are only minor changes in click-rate and donations, the policy will be looked at after 3 months. We might find out that reducing the costs for producing a newsletter was a good idea financially because people’s generosity does not go up with the additional newsletter – or we might find out that it was not a good idea. Whatever happens, after 3 months we will have more information. Not trying anything would not have given us any new information. Since we are measuring the concern, we are taking risks but we keep the risks as small as possible for our given context.
Avoid written discussions when trying to resolve Objections. This proofed to be very ineffective and often leads to even more misunderstandings. Collecting Objections asynchronously in a written way can make sense, discussing them like that doesn’t.