Paul McGregor

Thumbs Up / Thumbs Down Decisions

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Quickly understand how people feel about a decision, and whether a deeper discussion is needed.


Decide whether to do something or not



    1. Explain purpose: Tell the group you would like to understand their view on something.
    2. Explain process: Tell them they can put their thumb up, thumb down, thumb to the side or put their palm out flat.
      1. Thumb up = I consent to this decision
      2. Thumb sideways = I am happy to go with the group on this decision
      3. Thumb down = I don't like this decision, but I'll let it go ahead
      4. Palm out like a stop sign = I block this decision. We need to talk about it more.
    3. See what happens: If there are no palms out, go ahead with the decision. If there are lots of thumbs down, you may want to pause before moving on with the decision. This will depend on how important the decision is, how much time you have and what the group's culture is.


    Shout out to the team at Loomio from whom I have learned a lot about consensus and consent-based decision making, and to a long history of peaceful organisers who have used these hand signals and others like them.

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