How does one come to decisions in a non-hierarchical system?
In coming to a decision the different sets of needs, skills, and worldviews of the people involved can be taken into account, and a analysis, a meaning system, a narrative of what is unfolding emerges.
The emergence of the narrative, the analysis should take account as much as possible all the needs and skills of the stakeholders. When it does this right there is an arising of collective intelligence. When this doesnt happen as well there is chaos.
In the consensus process General Aseembly process what can happen is it becomes a pro vs con debate about the decision. In this kind of process the needs of all involved may not be considered fully. There is an emergence, but an emergence that doesn’t tap fully into the collective intelligence of the group. If the process can transcend this pro vs con level of discussion, it can become a coming together, an integration of the different needs and views. However this can take some time, and is not the most efficient way to emerge a way of seeing things that takes into account all stakeholders.
In an Open Space Technology facilitation process people can volunteer to begin discussion topics on different aspects of an issue. This leads to more different approaches to the issues. And many more people giving their input at any one time. As the different groups cross-fertilize their discussion the best ideas come to the fore. It doesn’t allow the group to get hijacked by a disruptive elements in a large consensus making circle. A narrative and meaning system emerges more naturally in this process because many more different needs, worldviews, skills are integrated into the narrative and discussions.
From a complex systems perspective Open Space Technology (OST) leads to better governance because i) diversity leads to resilience in complex systems ii) parallel discussions of multiple circles lead to more computation ability of the collective than serial discussions in big circle iii) the ways the different groups form in OST and reform lead to the group being connected in ways that are closer to the edge of chaos where the system can compute more solutions algorithmically.
General Assembly consensus methods often take a long time. Open Space Technology facilitation which has been used by many organizations often find that they can shorten projects from months to days when using Open Space Technology facilitation. Heres a list of ways Open Space Technology facilitation has been used.