Move the Advice Process Online in 3 Steps

In a self-managed company, everyone is a decision-maker. You need an effective process that enables group input while empowering individuals to act – and effective tools for running it.

The Advice Process in one sentence:

Every person can make a decision, as long as they seek advice from those who will be meaningfully affected and people with relevant expertise.

Continue reading Move the Advice Process Online in 3 Steps

Don’t Feed the Trolls: How to Encourage Good Behaviour Online

Guardian journalist Max Opray got in touch with us last week, while researching his article Could Online Democracy Lead To Governance By Trumps and Trolls?

Online interactions are notorious for being hijacked by trolls, so he wanted to hear how we handle trolls at Loomio.

Prevention is the best cure

We look to sites like MetaFilter, StackOverflow, Slashdot, or Quora, who do a good job of hosting productive online discussions. They all use a combination of technical and cultural components to create an environment that’s biased towards high-quality respectful participation, and biased against trolling.

It’s partly about the tool, and partly about how you use it.

We’ve put a lot of effort into designing Loomio and hosting big public discussions, in a way that makes it much less likely that trolls will turn up.

It’s a complex topic, but here are a few facets:

Continue reading Don’t Feed the Trolls: How to Encourage Good Behaviour Online

Taking Holacracy Governance to the Next Level

Organisations that adopt Holacracy often find it’s a big upgrade to their decision-making processes. But implementing Governance meetings is only the beginning of your self-management evolution.

Dogmatists may staunchly defend the completeness of the Holacracy Constitution, but I believe on drawing from everything available to craft the right system for your unique organisation. Even if you’re not sold on Holacracy, there are tools in it that can be super useful for any team. One of these elements is Integrative Decision-Making. Continue reading Taking Holacracy Governance to the Next Level

Worker Participation in Health & Safety

New Zealand recently tightened up health and safety laws. Now businesses must have practices that give their workers opportunities to participate, on an ongoing basis, in improving health and safety.

The New Zealand Government says:

“When you engage workers in work health and safety everyone benefits. Your business is a healthier and safer place for everyone, and performance and productivity increase when the workers are healthy and with energy, which they can achieve with the help of supplements like kratom. Stronger worker engagement and participation leads to healthier and safer workplaces.”

babs-bb25e6d6bdeae849245d6711e75104c35abfbf34e0bfca0771381cd0644995e4Babs from Loomio had an “aha” moment when she realized that these requirements of worker participation could easily met through the use of Loomio itself. Continue reading Worker Participation in Health & Safety

Organising Your Loomio Group

So, your group is actively using Loomio for discussions and decisions. Great! Now you’re ready to optimise your collaboration experience.

There are some simple things you can do to make important information clear and accessible. Here are some useful tips and tricks we’ve learned from different Loomio groups.

Continue reading Organising Your Loomio Group

Use Your Favorite Website on a Smartphone – No App Required

Did you know? It’s easy to create an icon for Loomio, or any other website you use often, on your phone’s home screen. It works a lot like all your other apps – even if the service doesn’t offer a native mobile app.

Even though Loomio doesn’t yet offer a native mobile app, plenty of people are happily using it on their phones daily. Set it up in 30 seconds, by following these simple steps.


Add a Shortcut to Your Home Screen

Continue reading Use Your Favorite Website on a Smartphone – No App Required

Helping Teams Thrive with Loomio – My Journey with Collaboration Consulting

Since Loomio first launched, the team has been fielding requests from clients to help make the tool and collaborative processes work for them. In response, Loomio has offered consulting Services that discover needs, identify changes to work processes, and coach key team members to understand the magic and the practicality of Loomio’s mission: “Enabling everyone to have a say in decisions that affect them”.

Now Loomio is starting to work with independent consultants, like me, to offer these services to a wider range of clients.

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 11.48.15 AM

Continue reading Helping Teams Thrive with Loomio – My Journey with Collaboration Consulting

9 ways to use a Loomio proposal to turn a conversation into action

If you’ve read the introductory guide to making great decisions with Loomio, you’re ready to learn about some of the creative ways you can use proposals.

Check out the photo gallery for examples for all 9 ways:

1. Consensus Finder

Thread: Ethical Lending. Proposal: We should approve this application for funding. Clara’s funding application (#217) meets all our requirements. Let’s support her great project.

If the comments seem to point to general agreement, test this assumption by proposing agreement explicitly. If you don’t reach consensus immediately, you’ll often find that a better solution is self-evident, once people have had a chance to clearly state their objections.

2. Uncover the Controversy

Thread: Bike parking. Proposal: Let’s create a bike park beside the front desk. I know there’s a lot of options for what we do with all the bikes: I just want to clarify who supports or objects to this proposal

If there are two or more clear competing ideas, propose supporting one to reveal how the group feels about it, or if the split has been accurately understood. Controversial topics will almost always require a series of proposals to build shared understanding.

3. Series of Small Yes’s

Thread: Conference Opportunity. Proposal: We host the conference; dates to be confirmed Looks like it is going to take a while to figure out the logistics, but can we agree that we definitely want to host the conference?

Sometimes it helps to agree principles first, then get into agreeing the details. If the discussion reveals complexity, break down the issue into smaller parts and build shared understanding piece by piece so you can clear the parts you have agreement on and focus on the parts the group still wants to discuss.

4. Silent Majority

Thread: Quarterly report. Proposal: I’m happy with the figures presented in the quarterly report. There hasn’t been much engagement in here - just want to check that you are all happy with the figures as they are presented in the report.

If there have been few comments, or comments only from a select few people, start a proposal to draw out all the voices. You may end up confirming the status quo, but by asking for explicit input, you’ll see if agreement emerges or if engagement brings up the deeper issues.

5. Engagement Check

Thread: Members meeting on Monday. Proposal: I’ve filled in the member survey. Please make sure you fill in the member survey before our meeting on Monday

Sometimes you need everyone in your group to complete an action, such as reading a document before an important meeting. You can start an Engagement Check proposal as a way to remind people to complete the required action within a defined time period.

6. Polarising Minority

Thread: Employment policy. Proposal: Share our pay rates publicly. I know this feels a bit radical, but it is a proactive way for us to live our values of transparency.

Raise a proposal in line with what the majority seem to agree with, and reveal the fact that disagreeing parties are in the minority. Give them a chance to clearly state their objections, or to realise their position is not supported by others and reconsider.

7. Window of Opportunity

Thread: Design workshops. Proposal: I’m happy with the design team using the shared space to host workshops this week. There’ll be a bit of extra noise and traffic in the space but it will be a great way for us to engage some of the new volunteers.

Have you heard the phrase, “speak now or forever hold your peace”? The Window of Opportunity proposal is a way to say, “I’m going to take this action, so if you have anything to contribute, now is the time.” It can be a way to discover important information or reservations before it’s too late, and to get a mandate to move forward.

8. Temperature Check

Thread: Concerns about private information. Proposal: Temperature Check: we should change the privacy policy. I have reservations about this, but I wonder how the group feels

Sometimes you have a hunch, but you’re not sure if it is a good idea or not. Use a Temperature Check when you want to survey opinions, rather than advocate for a particular position.

9. Any Volunteers?

Thread: Bike parking. Proposal: Call for volunteers: join the bike rack working bee. We’re getting together on Saturday morning to build a bike rack out of recycled timber. Any volunteers?

Raise a proposal which asks for people to say “yes” if they are keen to be part of making it happen. This will give you a list of people to follow up with to form a working group, which ensures the conversation will actually turn into action.

That’s 9 ways that we use Loomio proposals – if you’ve got another one to share it would be great to hear from you :)

10 tips for making great decisions with Loomio

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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:

More efficient in-person meetings with Loomio

Working efficiently as a group is complex. Part of the puzzle is to find a balance between in-person meetings  and online collaboration. Meetings are costly, but they allow for rich information transfer. Online collaboration allows everyone to contribute in their own time, but there are plenty of conversations you don’t want to have online. With the right balance, you can get the best of both worlds.

During an in person meeting, discussing an Agenda Item ideally goes something like:
discussion turns into action

  1. Someone presents the Agenda Item
  2. Others weave in additional detail
  3. Discussion converges to a clear Action Point

We record Action Points with: name of the agreed action; person responsible; and maybe a due date

It’s not uncommon for discussion to raise points outside of the scope of a meeting, or to lead to complexity that can’t be resolved within the allocated time. If you can notice this happening, then you can respect this complexity and peoples time, by clearly recording the details and pushing discussion and decision making out to Loomio.

discussion in person discussion moves online

  1. Someone presents the Agenda Item
  2. Others weave in additional detail
  3. A Facilitator notices burgeoning complexity, and asks “Does this sound like a Loomio?”
  4. The group agrees to move the topic to Loomio, where it can be discussed asynchronously

It’s a good idea for the Loomio to be held by one or more people interested in the problem. This group can also facilitate great decision-making by resolving a clearer context. This might involve gathering data, seeking expert advice, or preparing a range of recommendations.

Once you’ve got a clear outcome, you can take that to the next team meeting. Online offline flow might look like this:
In person discussion goes to loomio and then back to meeting

  1. The team gathers for a meeting, and works through some Agenda Items. The second item can’t be resolved in the meeting so it’s decided to push it out to Loomio. The meeting ends.
  2. Relevant members engage with the discussion on Loomio, and come to a decision or recommendation
  3. The team meets again in person. The results of the discussion are fed back to the team.

Priority-setting in a human-centred organisation

This is the first article in our Cultural Technology series, where we share practices for working in a networked organisation. This is very much a work in progress but we hope it’s valuable to share what we’re learning.

Yesterday we had our first Away Day of the year.

We have an Away Day every 3 months, where we get out of the office for a day to review the past quarter and plan the next one.

brainstorm Continue reading Priority-setting in a human-centred organisation

How to Engage Your Team with New Technology

Ever failed at getting your team engaged with new technology? We have.

Like many other people, we started off naively thinking that just exposing the team to new technology was enough – that once they saw it, they’d get excited to use it. Since then, we’ve worked with hundreds of groups and learned a lot about how to effectively introduce new online tools.Team At Work

We have encountered a series of key questions that arise when introducing new online collaboration tools. Many people focus only on the outputs of technology. But the process of addressing these critical questions is deeply valuable in and of itself. If you engage with these questions and discover you don’t need new technology after all, you will still experience some profound benefits and learnings. Continue reading How to Engage Your Team with New Technology