tools directory

Online Consensus Decision making

What situations is this tool used in?

Consensus decision making is designed to support collective determination of outcomes, working towards the maximum degree of consensus on a favoured proposal in order to achieve the greatest degree of support. Online consensus decision making utilises online systems to facilitate the refinement of, and voting on, options.

Who is this tool aimed at?

Online consensus decision making can be used by any organisation looking to develop a commonly-accepted way forward on a decision that has a number of options. The online approach more easily enables a wider pool of people to participate than would be possible using offline methods.

How Is the Tool Used?

An online approach to consensus decision making follows the same structure as the equivalent offline processes. 

Participants register online, and can be streamed into a specific group if comparison of different demographics or backgrounds is to be carried out. There may be an initial period of ideas generation in order to develop a list of options for debate, or there may be a pre-defined list of options. The debate period enables participants to discuss the pros and cons of different options, followed by a vote, ranking each option in order of preference.

Who has used the tool?

The ‘de Borda Experiment’ was the result of a collaboration between the Belfast-based de Borda Institute, the New Economics Foundation and OurKingdom (openDemocracy’s UK politics section). The Modified Borda Count (MBC) is a preference voting procedure in which the option with the highest average preference score or highest number of points is selected. The process involves three stages: debate, vote and analysis of the vote. This particular online consensus decision making process focused on the issue of political party funding. The process focused on two constituencies: university students and other members of the public – 16 out of 90 registered students and 60 out of 170 registered members of the public took part.

 de Borda experiment summary:

de Borda experiment results:

Where to find out more

MBC outline:

Select committee submission by the de Borda Institute and NEF: