Selecting our negotiator(s)

There has been some lack of clarity lately around the process to appoint our negotiator(s), which didn’t get better from the sudden progress on the JET-14 site.

The purpose of this post is get some more clarity about the process in general, and then to zoom in on our concrete situation and make a proposal on the way forward.

1. Role description and selection process

A while ago we consented to a role description for our negotiator(s) (internal link). This document gathers the list of qualifications we are looking for, and a a concrete description of the negotiator(s)’ tasks.

Role descriptions are used in sociocracy as the basis for selection process. A selection process is like a normal proposal consent process, except that in this case the group is using its collective intelligence to see who is most suited for the role, and whether consent can be reached on that.

So in a selection process everybody will be asked to name their preferred candidate and explain why you are choosing this person. Then we do a second round, and people can change their choice based on what has been shared in the round.

2. A reality check about the proposed role description

The proposal is build on a couple of assumptions, which may not be fully in line with reality:

  1. We assumed that some people may vote no, and may thus not be able to negotiate for certain sites (as they would not be participating in the purchase)

  2. We assumed that we would have a sufficiently big pool of people with relevant qualifications.

For privacy reasons I commented in a private post that I believe that the second assumption is not in line with reality. In sum I argued that, personally, having followed a significant amount of hard-core negotiation training, I would feel incompetent and nervous about so much responsibility.

3. A proposal to widen the pool for the selection process

In the same post I also explained that my father has done sales negotiations for more than half of his career, and that he is very good at this. On top of that he will be a social investor in The Reef, which means that he will buy a unit regardless of where the site will be located, and without being able to participate in the vote.

Based on this, in the same private post, I proposed to widen the pool of people we could select, to include my father, and of course anybody else who meets the qualifications in the role description. Feedback in that private post was exclusively positive.

4. JET-14 leading to a sudden need for an ad interim negotiator

The owner of JET-14 has reached out a couple of days ago, naming a price and requesting an offer by the end of the month.

I discussed this issue with my father, asking whether it would be appropriate to already appoint one spokesperson who can communicate our line to take, and he said yes (see

In that same post, I thus proposed to be pragmatic, and to ask my dad to step in for the moment as our ad interim negotiator.

5. Next step: a selection process

The next step would be to organise a real selection process at one of the next plenaries.

Finding ourselves a little in a governance limbo, in my capacity of ordinary Reefling I would like to make a call on the spirit of the preamble of our Governance Document, which says:

Writing up certain issues related to governance can never cover all situations we will encounter and should always be seen as a means to an end, and never as an end by itself. This document should therefore be used flexibly and never dogmatically.

If that can be acceptable in this situation, this would be my pragmatic proposal:

  • We continue for the moment with my father as the ad interim negotiator for JET-14 (should there be any further need)

  • My father will attend the meeting with the architects on 29/02 (mostly in listening mode)

  • After that meeting we could stay on for 15 more minutes, so that everybody gets the chance to ask my father questions about his experiences with negotiation.

  • Unless that meeting raises an objection, we could continue with my father as the ad-interim negotiator until we get to a selection process.

  • We ask a helping circle to come up with a ready-to-consent package at the plenary of 19/03, including:

    • Who are the candidates that meet the qualifications?
    • Do we need to adjust the negotiator(s)’ tasks and responsibilities?
    • If there would be one lead negotiator who does all the negotiations, should we build a team around that person, e.g. for communication with the architects, Team Building and Team Reef? If yes, who can realistically take care of this?
  • An alternative could be to do the same at the Full Members meeting on 06/03. This is less transparent for the Associate Members, but does have a couple of advantages: 1) we get to a clear and stable situation sooner, 2) we can look at the distribution of responsibilities as a package, including the roles of Coordinator, Back-up and possibly also that of the Coordinators of some of our core teams (e.g. Building and Finance).

6. My personal preference

I will stand for insisting on process, because it can bring predictability and safety, and at the same time I find it important to never lose track of our group’s objective, and to be pragmatic when there is an urgent and important need.

In this case my personal preference would be to tackle this issue at the Full Members meeting of 06/03, as part of a couple of rounds on distributed leadership, and possibly a mega selection process to reshuffle a number of key roles.

7. A concrete way forward

@ugne, if there is space, can it be an option to take this post as a proposal to the plenary on Monday? Questions to the round could include 1) any questions, comments and objections, and in function of that 2) consent to a proposal on when we will do the selection process(es).

All feedback on this post is of course also very welcome.