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Gradients Of Agreement

Origins

In The Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Making, Sam Kaner et all introduce the Community At Work's Gradients Of Agreement Scale. The scale addresses the problems of getting everyone's agreement on an issue. Instead of asking everyone for a simple Yes or No to a proposal, which can force people to take positions that do not fully reflect their position, you instead poll everyone's agreement to it along a predetermined scale. The Community At Work Gradients Of Agreement Scale looks like this:

  • Endorsement - "I like it."
  • Endorsement with a Minor Point of Contention - "Basically I like it."
  • Agreement with reservations - "I can live with it."
  • Abstain - "I have no opinion."
  • Stand Aside - "I don't like this, but I don't want to hold up the group."
  • Formal Disagreement, but Willing to Go with Majority - "I want my disagreement noted in writing, but I'll support the decision."
  • Formal Disagreement, With Request to be Absolved of Responsibility for Implementation - "I don't want to stop anyone else, but I don't want to be involved in implementing it."
  • Block - "I veto this proposal."

This scale will not be appropriate for all situations so groups should create their own set of gradients and, as important, decide when results of a poll are sufficient to make a decision. Being able to see how much support there is at each gradient is important for making a decision.

DONE
DONE
DONE
DONE
DONE
DONE
DONE
DONE
DONE
DONE
DONE
DONE
DONE        
6 4 2 1        
Endorsement Endorsement with a Minor Point of Contention Agreement with reservations Abstain Stand Aside Formal Disagreement, but Willing to Go with Majority Formal Disagreement, With Request to be Absolved of Responsibility for Implementation Block
"I like it." "Basically I like it." "I can live with it." "I have no opinion." "I don't like this, but I don't want to hold up the group." "I want my disagreement noted in writing, but I'll support the decision." "I don't want to stop anyone else, but I don't want to be involved in implementing it." "I veto this proposal."

The above poll would indicate a high level of support.


DONE DONE DONE
DONE
DONE
DONE
DONE
DONE
DONE
DONE
DONE
DONE
DONE
DONE
DONE
DONE
DONE
   
1 1 4 4 3      
Endorsement Endorsement with a Minor Point of Contention Agreement with reservations Abstain Stand Aside Formal Disagreement, but Willing to Go with Majority Formal Disagreement, With Request to be Absolved of Responsibility for Implementation Block
"I like it." "Basically I like it." "I can live with it." "I have no opinion." "I don't like this, but I don't want to hold up the group." "I want my disagreement noted in writing, but I'll support the decision." "I don't want to stop anyone else, but I don't want to be involved in implementing it." "I veto this proposal."

this would indicate a lower level of support but agreement would still be unanimous.


DONE DONE
DONE
DONE
DONE
DONE
DONE
DONE
DONE
DONE
DONE
DONE
DONE
   
1 3 2 2 2 3    
Endorsement Endorsement with a Minor Point of Contention Agreement with reservations Abstain Stand Aside Formal Disagreement, but Willing to Go with Majority Formal Disagreement, With Request to be Absolved of Responsibility for Implementation Block
"I like it." "Basically I like it." "I can live with it." "I have no opinion." "I don't like this, but I don't want to hold up the group." "I want my disagreement noted in writing, but I'll support the decision." "I don't want to stop anyone else, but I don't want to be involved in implementing it." "I veto this proposal."

This could still be taken as unanamous support although it would indicate that more discussion is needed.

Past and Future use on TWiki.org

Many people read a topic and think "yup" without need for any other comment. Unless we have feature voting there is no way for an individual reading a topic to efficiently express their opinion and thus no way to collect or aggregate consent. We have had a partial form of agreement scale with DesireMeter, but it was used in an ad-hoc fashion, did not have a set of defined gradients, used a crude average instead of displaying complete sumary of the spead of opinions and couldn't be easily compiled into the Release topics and the CurrentState field topics to indicate there how much proposals were wanted by the TWikiCommunity.

When to seek group Agreement/Consensus

Previously when we have tried to use feature voting, it didn't work very well (at least, not the way we tried it). It is more useful in situation where a contributor is trying to make up their mind which of several features they want to concentrate on than in trying to decide how a particular feature should be implemented. Lack of support could indicate that a feature's proposed implementation does not suit everyone and could lead to further discusion, but unanimous consent shouldn't be needed on every implementation detail.

It also only works in the context of a fixed roadmap, which TWiki has never had. One way it might be useful is in putting together such a roadmap. Make a big list of all the features/featurettes that should be considered for EdinburghRelease. Set up some infrastructure that allows people to "bounce on a button" to raise the priority of certain features. Then start at the top and work your way down until you think Edinburgh release is ready.

We need an agreement scale that is suitable for use in these situations and a way of using it that allows for quick polling and easy compilation of results. Below we will discuss what agreement scale to use on TWiki.org; the implementation of it will be discussed in SupportSparklines.

-- SamHasler - 26 Nov 2005 (with edited words by MartinCleaver and CrawfordCurrie from the Feature proposal voting (was I can't log on to IRC :()) thread on the TWiki-Dev mailing list)

What set of gradients should we use on TWiki.org?

To create the agreement scale I suggest we first compile a list of all the gradients that we might want to use, and then vote on which ones to use (possably using the gradients themselves).

Here is a modified version of the community at work scale, please feel free to add your own gradients (no sig's necessary) and to comment on alternative wording, which ones you think are not suitable for TWiki.org and which you think are redundant.

  • Full Endorsement - "I absolutely need this and I'm prepared to contribute code."
  • Endorsement - "I absolutely need this"
  • Agreement - "This would be useful if available/could use it/not desperate"
  • ???????? - "I might use this/unsure if would"
  • Abstain - "I have no opinion."
  • Stand Aside - "I don't need this but I don't mind it being added for others."
  • Formal Disagreement, but Willing to Go with Majority - "I want my disagreement noted in writing, but I'll support the decision."
  • Formal Disagreement, With Request to be Absolved of Responsibility for Implementation - "I don't want to stop anyone else, but I don't want to be involved in implementing it."
  • Block - "I veto this proposal."

-- SamHasler - 26 Nov 2005

Comments

Although I created the list I'm not convinced that Agreement - "This would be useful if available/could use it/not desperate" and ???????? - "I might use this/unsure if would" aren't the same thing. I think what I was trying to get at when I put that in was the difference between features that make something that is already possible easier to do and something that that looks useful but you don't know how you'd use it. The latter, it could be argued, is more akin to Stand Aside - "I don't need this but I don't mind it being added for others."

It's obvious that Formal Disagreement, With Request to be Absolved of Responsibility for Implementation isn't appropriate to TWiki.org, we don't force anyone to implement features after all. But something along the lines of "Formal Disagreement, I'd have to remove this from my installation" might be useful.

-- SamHasler - 26 Nov 2005

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Topic revision: r2 - 2014-03-25 - PeterThoeny
 
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