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Deeply democratic decision making – the antidote for civil disobedience

Updated: May 27, 2020

Blog 5 of 5 on excellence in decision making. 

Disclaimer: We have no political agenda or affiliation. This is rather an analysis of the process of decision making as we understand it, and the consequences that are realised based on how it is done.

This is the final of this series, and reflects how leaders of society can make decisions that are both wiser and more inclusive through using the Lewis Deep Deomcracy (LDD) 4-step decision process. (see previous blogs for more).

The level 4 lock-down decisions provide many opportunities for the application of the LDD decision process . Knowing and deciding the best course of action in the face of this pandemic is difficult and controversial. There is a public expression of resistance to some of the lockdown decisions manifesting through social media and open letters from various prominent people. Then there is the reaction to this which is attacking privilige and capitialism. The government and our decision makers are between a rock and a hard place, in seemingly impossible position to keep all stakeholders happy. Perhaps application of this method would be helpful to them in making these difficult calls. With this in mind, below is an overview of how the 4 step process is applied and could be used.

In summary this is how it goes:

This means asking as many people as you can for their opinions ensuring that they are representative of all stakeholders groups. Rank and privilege needs to be acknowledged in this process as those with greater power, will have more influence. It is therefore important to ensure the voice of the 'disempowered' is actively sought. So far it appears that, on the Corona Task team, it is the scientists and academics who have been holding the power position. The view that dominates has been lock-down and stop the spread. It is not clear if the voices of the poor have been garnered, and if so what they are saying. The voice of business is getting louder.

Look for the no means actively eliciting the alternative view, the view that is counter the popular one, or the status quo and can be considered the minority view. If the status quo is considered 'the slow lift of lockdown', the minority view could be 'stop the lock down'. In the South African context this minority view seems to be held by the group of people from the formal and informal sector who have small businesses and jobs. It can be assumed that this group just want to get back to work and sustain their income. The LDD method holds that there is wisdom to be gained from this view.

Step 3, spread the no, is designed to prevent negatively scapegoating a particular view and therefore losing the wisdom. It means that leaders actively encourage deliberate consideration of this view by checking who else agrees or can identify with it, even a little bit. Right now the view of stop the lockdown and open up the economy is gaining momentum and there is political reaction to this minority view. If the approach is to allow people to add their voices to this minority view in a way that is openly considerate, resistance and conflict can be contained and rebellion avoided.

Step 4 is when the leaders make the call and decide. This can be achieved through a simple majority vote, or the leader calling the decision him/herself. This would be after considering all the views and the wisdom of the alternative view. This step then requires the Decision maker/s to ask the proponents of the view that lost (the minority in this instance), "what do you need to come along?", and then build that wisdom into the final decision. In the example of the decision to do a slow lift of lock down, it would be to ask the holders of the minority view ie: stop the lockdown what it would take for them to come along with the decision.

In conclusion, the LDD decision process has the potential to enable decision makers to make decisions that are more inclusive. Decisions that are made in a deeply democratic way have two major benefits:

  1. they are better because they incorporate the wisdom of all

  2. they are supported - people buy-in because their voices have been heard and resistance is contained.



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