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…tough situations with a need for difficult or complex decision making.

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You want the best solution to emerge while making progress.

Consent is about integrative decision-making so that, for the time being, all decisions will be within the limits of tolerance of all aspects of the system.

Policies and decisions are crafted by systematically, integrating the core truth or value in each perspective put forth. The measurement of when you have achieved consent is that no one involved in the decision-making process knows of a reasoned and paramount objection to proceeding with the proposed decision. All reasoned and paramount objections must be addressed in the decision-making process, giving everyone involved in the process a voice in their own governance.

The thumbs protocol is a light-weight version of consent—a proposal is accepted if there is at least one thumb up and no thumb down. Thumb down means that someone has a reasoned and paramount objection to the proposal.

Do not confuse consent with consensus. They are fundamentally different.


Adopt the right for everyone to object proposals, based on solid arguments. Have a leader make a final decision to keep up to speed.

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No insurmountable objections means: the plan is

  • executable,
  • feasible,
  • fertile,
  • supported,
  • within tolerance limits of individuals, groups and systems.

Substantial objection means you cannot live with it, the proposal is unbearable.

Ask yourself, can or will I implement the proposal? If not, find out why not. Or ask, “Will damage me or others?” These questions will give you your substantial objections.

If you don’t know if you have substantial objections, then you don’t have them, or you need more information.

You still may have improvement suggestions, though.

No consent implies chances for better solutions that can emerge by collaborative open investigation. The facilitator engages the group in a discovery process to find proposals that mitigate or eliminate the substantial objections.