Alícia Trepat Pont
A doocracy-based decision-making mechanism - Ouishare
20 cities in 3 continents
Exploring the Edges
2 M €
60 connectors 8,000 community members

In its eight years of existence, Ouishare has gone from a community of bloggers interested in the Sharing Economy, to a worldwide network of passionate explorers of any topic that fosters and accelerates systemic change. 

One of the keys to such a shift and further flourishing of the community is its strong working culture and its minimal and clear governance structure that allows members to easily engage in action and make decisions in an agile way.

What decision-making mechanism does Ouishare use and why?

Ouishare is a decentralised network that was born in Paris in 2011. It was created out of curiosity about the Sharing Economy. Back then it seemed that it was going to change the rules of the game and achieve a relevant social impact while awakening communities. 

After eight years, they barely talk about the Sharing Economy anymore. That’s because what really unites members is their curiosity and desire to explore the boundaries of our society. For example:

  • What are the futures of work? 
  • What impact are these already having on our present day? 
  • What changes need to happen in education? 
  • How is mobility evolving? 

Ouishare is a think and do tank. Their decision-making mechanism and process are based on three principles that serve as the core of the community. 

1. Autonomy of projects and communities

All Ouishare projects manage their budget and decisions independently. Their only obligation towards the organization is to contribute 10%-20% of structure costs to their local Ouishare non-profit. They rely on the good judgement of the project leaders to determine when a decision about a project could have a large impact on the rest of the organization and  or brand. When this happens, they count on them to consult the rest of the connectors community before a decision is made.

2. The three (3)-Connector rule

All day-to-day decisions that are not project related and do impact the budget or the Ouishare brand can be made by three connectors together. 

3. Voting as last resort

Voting creates winners and losers and often slows things down. The tools they have chosen to make decisions are meant to enable discussions to take place in a transparent and agile way without forcing votes on all points. They only hold a vote when a topic or issue that cleary needs a decision or is an emergency. 

Decision Mechanism: Lazy Consent

For formal decisions, Ouishare uses a version of consent decision-making, called Lazy Consent. This methodology has a specific meaning and practice.

Lazy consent means that a specific percentage of people to vote on a matter is not required for the result to be valid. In this structure, silence is equal to supporting a decision. 

Attention: they are using consent, not consensus, meaning that if you vote yes, that may not mean you necessarily agree, but you can live with the decision and did not choose to veto it.

Decision Tool: Loomio

Formal decisions are made using a software tool called Loomio. Loomio helps keep a clear record and archive, and to ensure that everyone who desires to participate in a given decision-making process has the opportunity to make their voice heard.This helps groups make collective decisions using constructive deliberation. The process is based on the principle that diverse perspectives can be synthesised to achieve better solutions that work for more people.

What type of decisions does Ouishare have to make?

Standard and Strategic Decisions

Standard and strategic decisions happen both at a local and global level, though most of the time at a local level. Since it varies by case which level a decision must be made on, it is up to the members and connectors leading a decision to judge whether to consult a local or global Loomio group.

Decision Type Passing Criteria Minimum time frame for voting Description
Standard Decision As long as 3 Connectors agree none Any day-to-day decision that does not have a large impact on the OuiShare brand and budget, for example to organizing a OuiShare meetup in a city.
Use of the Ouishare Brand As long as there are no blocks 5 working days on Loomio For example associating an external project, event or organization with the brand and promoting it on our communication channels.
Strategic Decisions As long as there are no blocks 5 working days on Loomio For example, partnering with other organizations for a project, applying for an EU project or moving to a new office.
How did you select this decision-making system?

Back in 2011 there were several people blogging about something called “sharing economy”. After a few months they came up with the name Ouishare and in 2012, they held the first international gathering in Paris. The community started taking shape, and in 2013 they held the first Ouishare Fest, a huge festival gathering people from all over the globe. 

There was a need for order and there was a well-intentioned attempt to put everything on paper. A lot of work from a little group of people who worked hard on it and came out with a 40-page document stating everything about Ouishare. 

What happened to that document and to all that hard work by a small group of individuals? It was never used. This was a big learning moment for the community. It made no sense to write all the processes. There was a need for order, yes, but the solution was not to go to the extreme and write everything. The community needed to learn to live within chaordicity, the sweet spot between chaos and order and that is to be found in natural systems. 

The learning resulted in the Minimal Viable Structure described above i.e. the mechanism system, tool and the types of decisions.