integrative decision-making

A decision-making process where not everyone needs to agree but no one must have an objection.

Integrative decision-making is a decision-making process developed in the Holacracy Constitution that can help organizations make better and faster decisions. However, every organization can benefit from an integrative decision-making processes, whether they adopt Holacracy or not.

The idea is to justify every decision by rejecting one only if someone proves why It is not good for the organization to accept it.

In Holacracy, integrative decision-making is the process that members use during a meeting. It is on a person we call the "Facilitator" to make sure all members respect the principles.

The Holacracy process to make a proposal and come to a decision in a meeting goes as follows:

  • Present proposal: the Proposer (the person proposing a topic of discussion) can describe what the Holacracy Constitution describes as a "Tension" and present a Proposal. Note that a "Tension" is not necessarily something negative. It can related to an unwanted situation that needs resolving but it can also simply be an improvement proposal or a growth opportunity that someone wishes to explore.
  • Clarifying questions: Participants can ask questions to the Proposer to clarify the Proposal.
  • Reaction round: Each participant, except the Proposer, can share reactions related to the Proposal.
  • Option to clarify: The Proposer can modify the Proposal based on the participants' reactions.
  • Objection round: Each participant can raise concerns about the Proposal, i.e. raise an objection. If there is no objection, the Proposal is adopted. If there are objections, the Facilitator has to lead the meeting through the Integration round.
  • Integration: For each Proposal, participants brainstorm to find a suitable way to address the Objection. The Facilitator indicates an Objection as resolved when the Objector confirms that the modified Proposal would not trigger the Objection, and the Proposer ensures that it still resolves the Tension.

Thus, integrative decision-making is not a consensus-based decision-making process where everyone needs to agree before a decision can be made, a process that often leads to long-winded discussions that end up in a compromise that suits no one and changes little. 

Instead, integrative decision-making encourages members to justify their opinion when rejecting proposals.

Compared to consensus where everybody has to agree (no matter the reason) to move forward with a proposal, the beauty of consent-based decision-making is that, as long as nobody can demonstrate that the proposal might hurt the organization, the proposer has the upper hand and can move their project along with their proposal.

This ensures that the organization is not locked into analysis paralysis with no decisions are ever made or only poor, diluted compromises.