Loomio
Fri 26 Apr 2019

We propose to change the CoTech Constitution to form a general decision-making” circle that meets virtually on a synchronous basis once per month.

AHC
Aaron Hirtenstein (Agile Collective) Public Seen by 236

During the last two days, a group of people from CoTech member coops have been looking at practical steps to improve CoTech's governance and structure. The full proposal is here: https://wiki.coops.tech/wiki/Sheffield_2019/_Cotech_governance.
This was presented to attendees of the gathering and received a widely positive response.

It is not a silver bullet, but hopefully a step in the right direction to allow the network to make decisions more effectively with a view to focusing more on collaboration, skill sharing and

We have deliberately left out details on how decisions will be made to focus solely on where/when decisions are made.

AHC

Our plan is to turn this thread into a proposal in 7 days to allow time for any clarifying questions or concerns to be raised. Please add these on this thread - we will try to answer them / address them!

PB

Pete Burden Fri 26 Apr 2019

That sounds like a great idea to me. @aaronhirtenstein can you also say something about the conversation about decision-making methods? Includingwhat methods were considered etc (eg it would be great to know if consent-based/sociocratic decision-making was considered?).

DB

Doug Belshaw Fri 26 Apr 2019

Hi Pete, we purposely separated the decision-making process from the structure within which those decisions would be made (if that makes sense).

So yes, while we imagine moving from a consensus-based approach to a consent-based one would make sense, this proposal is specifically focused on the 'container' for those decisions.

Does that make sense? :slight_smile:

PB

Pete Burden Fri 26 Apr 2019

Yes it makes perfect sense. I think the new container is a great next step.

Which hopefully will also make it easier to work out if and when a consent-based approach can be introduced!

AHC

thanks, pete. Different approaches like consent were discussed but we all agreed that this was the first step and then logically how we make decisions as a group in a meeting would need to be agreed. It also doesn't mean we ditch Loomio altogether, necessarily, it probably still has its place.

AHC

thanks, pete. Different approaches like consent were discussed but we all agreed that this was the first step and then logically how we make decisions as a group in a meeting would need to be agreed. It also doesn't mean we ditch Loomio altogether, necessarily, it probably still has its place.

G

Graham Sat 27 Apr 2019

A few queries spring to mind:
The proposal as written suggests (although it's not clear) that agendas will be built and decisions made by those individuals participating in the call. Consideration needs to be given to, and time allowed for, deliberation within member cooperatives on agenda items, so that delegates participating in the calls can accurately represent the view of their cooperative.
Also need a clear process by which any member co-operative can submit a proposal/agenda item and clarity as to how/whether that proposal is included in an agenda.
What is the relationship between the decision-making circle and any face-to-face gathering of CoTech members?

AHC

there was discussion last week about that point - it is a good one. In practice, I don't think major decisions will be raised and decided on in the same meeting, but more likely proposed one month and then taken to members before a decision the following month.

That said, this proposal is not about HOW decisions are made but WHERE, and the spirit of it is to encourage more members to become more active in helping to push the network forwards outside of the gatherings.

Re suggesting agenda items / proposals: I'm sure we can find a sensible and clear way to do this.

I'm not sure I understand the question regrading the relationship between the circle and gatherings, can you elaborate what your concern is here?

G

Graham Thu 2 May 2019

The HOW and the WHERE quickly become entwined, as one tends to define, or at least influence, the other. Process and clarity are key.

In terms of the relationship between this decision-making circle (DMC) and any face-to-face gathering: If CoTech were a company, and the DMC were it's board of directors, would the face-to-face gathering be the equivalent of a general meeting of the membership, and therefore be the sovereign body? Or does the face-to-face meeting delegate all decision-making to the DMC, or maybe something else. I ask simply because it's my experience that people in a face-to-face setting often like to make decisions, even when they not be technically quorate or have the authority to do so.

DB

Doug Belshaw Thu 2 May 2019

@graham2 I think this was an attempt to avoid bikeshedding, which to be fair we a lot of both here and in the CoTech forum.

We're proposing that decisions get made in the General Circle, rather than in an ad-hoc way by whoever's got time to read and reply to extremely lengthy forum threads.

That seems like the fairest way to do it, and a way to reward those who are organised and show up. Who each co-op sends as a representative is, of course, up to them.

G

Graham Thu 2 May 2019

Thanks Doug. I understand the intention. I'm simply seeking to achive clarity about how it will operate in practice.

JC

Jonathan Cook Wed 8 May 2019

I hope this is decided; I agree it's a good move in terms of how decisions are made. There is one caveat I would add, echoing Aaron's point "I don't think major decisions will be raised and decided on in the same meeting, but more likely proposed one month and then taken to members before a decision the following month" - this is a small but important feature that we should build in as a rule, I think, to ensure that discussion (and democracy) can always reach the 'grassroots'. Otherwise the danger is that (however well-intentioned) the Decision Making Circle might act without reference to the wider membership. ('Group Think' is a real phenomenon, even among the nicest people, as in this case :) )

CLF

Chris Lowis (Go Free Range) Sat 11 May 2019

This sounds great to me - I really enjoyed being part of the discussion on the first day, and am excited to see this proposal come out of it. One of the things we discussed was having a "facilitator" and "secretary" role in the circle - the latter would be responsible for circulating the agenda and making sure that people had enough time to contribute to it.

Perhaps a circle meeting could be held in person at a gathering where appropriate, so any interested folks could observe and see how things are working?

JMF

James Mead (Go Free Range) Sun 12 May 2019

I fully support this proposal. Many thanks to @aaronhirtenstein and everyone at the Sheffield gathering for putting it together.

In the comments there's been a suggestion that proposals should be made in one month and only voted on the following month. Do we need as much as a month notice for proposals? Could we not use the same one-week notice we currently use for decisions on Loomio as described in the constitution by publishing the agenda a week before each meeting?

CCC

The first proposed call is on Wednesday at 4pm, see https://wiki.coops.tech/wiki/Sheffield_2019/_Cotech_governance#When

Where are we creating an agenda for the calls, on the wiki?

I'd like to add the suggestion of running the next Workers Co-op Weekend as a joint Co-ops UK / CoTech event to the agenda https://community.coops.tech/t/co-operatives-uk-workers-co-op-weekend-may-10th-12th-2019/1227/11

AC

Autonomic Co-operative Sun 26 May 2019

Should we push it back on month for the first call? I doubt we will be able to let all the co-ops know the call is taking place before the 29th May. It would be good to have high turnout for the first meeting.

CCC

I think we should proceed with the proposal that was agreed in Sheffield:

The circle will meet at 16:00 UK time on the last Wednesday of every month. The first meeting will therefore take place on 29th May 2019.

See also the Discourse thread.

PB

Pete Burden Thu 23 May 2019

Sounds great @chriscroome . I'd be keen to attend - purely as a supporter and observer, as I am not a member of a CoTech coop. But I don't know - maybe there might be objections to that?

CCC

Attend the first one and suggest adding "Are we happy with non-voting observers on these calls?" to the agenda of the call? I doubt that anyone would object.

AHC

Aaron Hirtenstein (Agile Collective) started a proposal Thu 23 May 2019

We propose to change the CoTech Constitution to form a general decision-making” circle that meets virtually on a synchronous basis once per month Closed Thu 30 May 2019

see the thread for the details of the proposal!

Agree - 17
Abstain - 0
Disagree - 0
Block - 0
17 people have voted (14%)
ALP

Annie Legge (Dot Project)
Agree
Fri 24 May 2019

G

Graham
Agree
Sat 25 May 2019

AC

Autonomic Co-operative
Agree
Sun 26 May 2019

We at Autonomic are in favour of this!

LMH

Liam MacLeod (MediaBlaze Hosts)
Agree
Mon 27 May 2019

KB

Karen Beal
Agree
Tue 28 May 2019

NGW

Nick Greenhill (Co-op Web)
Agree
Tue 28 May 2019

JMF

James Mead (Go Free Range)
Agree
Wed 29 May 2019

On behalf of Go Free Range

P

PollyRobbinsOutlandish
Agree
Wed 29 May 2019

On behalf of Outlandish

RB

Roy Brooks
Agree
Wed 29 May 2019

O

olizilla
Agree
Wed 29 May 2019

LS

Louise Scott
Agree
Wed 29 May 2019

FT

Fabian Tompsett
Agree
Wed 29 May 2019

AC

Animorph Co-op
Agree
Wed 29 May 2019

CLF

Chris Lowis (Go Free Range)
Agree
Wed 29 May 2019

Sorry, GFR already voted. Consider this a cheer from the sidelines.

P

PollyRobbinsOutlandish Wed 29 May 2019

We do have a bit of a concern about the types of decision that are made on these calls. 1/3 quorum is not necessarily that high, and we are a little worried that key decisions that would change the fundamental nature of CoTech might be made by this minority. For example, allowing on non-worker-co-ops or implementing a membership fee. We feel that there ought to be a higher quorum or another way of consulting on these decisions. However, we're voting yes in the assumption that these details can be ironed out once we get going. Thanks.

RB

Roy Brooks Wed 29 May 2019

Ditto to Polly above

CCC

The notes from the first call on 29th May 2019 have been posted to the wiki. A quorum of 12+ (there are 36+ CoTech members) does seem like quite a lot of people to have in a online decision making call to me, but of course I agree that any fundamental decisions should be open to wider consultation and agreement and would expect this to happen.

CLF

Chris Lowis (Go Free Range) Wed 29 May 2019

I like the idea of separating (important) proposal rounds from decision rounds by at least one month/call, to give people a chance to think and also notice to attend. Perhaps changes to the constitution should be subject to this criteria at least (that would address the specific concerns @polly had on non-worker-coops and membership fee, for example).