How to make good, quick, collective decisions

This is a recipe for making good, quick, collective decisions:

  • Write a proposal with: a clear statement of the goals you're trying to achieve (always start with the goals!), your suggested approach, and maybe an argument for why it's a good idea. (A Google Doc is good for this kind of thing, because people can comment asynchronously and avoid meetings.)
  • Create a Trello ticket and @board to let people know you're kicking off a working group. Ask for volunteers to join it (and add themselves to the ticket). Point them towards your proposal, ask for comments, amendments and discussion.
  • Set a clear Due Date on the ticket for when the decision will be made, e.g. 4 business days from now. Leave more time for discussion if the decision will be hard to reverse.
  • Form a consensus within the working group by the Due Date. If it's an important decision, run the final proposal past me - I will almost certainly give it a thumbs up. If you have trouble forming a consensus, read Jeff Bezos on 'disagree & commit'. Then, announce it to the team, and take responsibility as a working group for making sure it happens.

Feel free to experiment with different rules however you like, and share better ideas for making good, quick, collective decisions. And have fun with it.


Here are some example decisions that might benefit from this approach:

  • Should we use Software X or Y for our Muffin-Baking Machine?
  • What's our process for dumping toxic waste into the sparkling water reservoir in future?

What if we’re struggling to form a consensus?

  • Extend the decision period and keep trying.
  • Look for evidence to support your arguments.
  • If it's an easy-to-reverse decision, remember that a good decision today is better than a perfect decision tomorrow.
  • Disagree but commit.
  • Ask me. But you may end up wishing you’d made the decision yourselves.