Consent decision making 101

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This model is used to introduce decision-making by consent. Its content is inspired by the practices of groups such as the University of We, Solon and Extinction Rebellion.

See decision making for a comparison of consent decision-making to other models.

Spirit of consent

  • Respecting limits
  • Distinctions between preferences and objections
  • Balance between assertiveness and letting go
  • Acceptance of the plurality of possible decisions - several decisions are practicable without objections

Rather than looking for the brightest star, we have before us a constellation of possibilities." -University of Us



  • Doesn't find the best decision, but the next feasible step.
  • Focuses on “here and now” needs, rather than solutions.
When to use?


  • the focus is on the action
  • we want to leave a place (although restricted compared to the consensus) to the people involved

Make collective decisions with efficiency and agility.

Main ideas

1. Expression of objections - Objections to proposals are heard.

2. Validation of objection - We validate the objections - they must meet criteria pre-established by the group. The facilitator can be the one who validates the objections.

3. Collective removal/resolution of objections - We remove one objection at a time by putting them in the "center of the group" - that is, in the hands of the group in order to enhance collective intelligence.

Key steps

1. Listening to the community and gathering information

2. Development of an initial proposal

These steps make it possible to design a proposal that takes into account the limits of the group expressed upstream of a decision-making process. It facilitates faster adoption of proposals. Thus, when possible, assign one or more people the task of preparing an initial proposal in advance by consulting the members of the group before a meeting. When this is not possible, recommend a simple proposal as the initial proposal.

3. Presentation of the initial proposal

Possible moment of introspection

4. Clarifications, amendments, withdrawal

5. Review

6. Objections

The facilitator, with the whole group, determines whether the objection is reasonable using pre-established criteria.

7. Bonus Round

The objection is put forward and the group resolves it. The facilitator then confirms with the objecting person that their objection is over.

8. Consent and celebration

Some groups have traditions related to celebrating a decision made, such as passing a bag of chips around the table. :-)

Criteria for a Reasonable Objection

The following are generic criteria prepared by the University of the US. Your group can adopt more specific criteria.

  • It invites an improvement of the proposal by the collective intelligence of the group
  • It eliminates the proposal, making it impossible to carry out (we save time by moving on to another proposal)
  • It is clearly argued
  • It is not a roundabout way, consciously or not, of expressing a preference or another proposal
Extinction Rebellion

To object to a decision, a member of a local Extinction Rebellion group must rely on a principle of the organization.

Solutions to Challenges

Objection not lifted

Here are avenues in case of impossibility to arrive at a consent in the allotted time...

  • Delegation by consent of the decision to a person or a group of persons 
  • Creation of a working group
  • Temporary decision making
  • Further continuation of the discussion
  • Alternative enforcement (by a group of interested people, outside the formal group)

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