Middle Ground Decisionmaking Policy - Appletree - 1986

Tags: Appletree, Process, Consensus, Decision-making

Middle Ground Decisionmaking Policy AT-A4

Middle Ground Decisionmaking Policy AT-A4

This will, hopefully, be a short summary of the latest (Jan. 1, 1986) version of the famous Middle Ground Decision Making Policy Package.

Our present method is consensus. Consensus gives each of us great power to prevent things happening that we don't want. The other side of this lovely power, is that each of us has much less power to create things that we do not want. Middle-ground is an attempt to give each of us somewhat more power to create, by having somewhat less power to prevent.

The proposed new method, middle-ground, gives us a tool for making decisions that take everybody's wishes fairly into account. Before trying middle-ground, we attempt to reach consensus. After finding a middle-ground position, it can be blocked by a voting process in which 20 (or 25) percent feel strongly opposed to it in spite of it's objective fairness.

Step by step, the new method looks like this:

1. We try for consensus.

2. If no consensus, we put the decision into a middle-ground format, on paper.
a) If we have more than two proposals to decide between, we vote repeatedly, eliminating the least popular one at each vote, until we are down to 2 proposals.
b) We put the proposal(s) on a line. The ends might be THIS PROPOSAL/THAT PROPOSAL, or YES/NO, or ZERO/ONE HUNDRED (or other appropriate numbers).

3. We then each mark our position, at one end of the line or at a specified point in between. Our names are now arranged in order. The person in the middle of this list, Appletree's moderate of the moment, is sitting on the tentative middle-ground decision. If no one objects, this will become Appletree policy after a little double-checking. (Notice that with consensus, the person with the extreme position has more power, while with middle-ground, the person with a moderate position has more power. I believe that this will have a stabilizing effect on Appletree.)

4. If someone does object, we will decide whether to support the middle-ground that we have just found. We will then use a modified version of "consensus minus one" - or a modified version of voting, depending on your point of view.

With at least 4 people deciding, the middle ground becomes tentative policy even if 1 person is opposed.

When more than one person is opposed, the middle-ground becomes tentative policy unless more than 25% of the people deciding are opposed; for major decisions (membership, large financial, and bylaw), the figure is 20%. Also, bylaw decisions require 2 months of agreement before they can be passed.
(Notice that the number of "people deciding" can be crucial here. For this reason, the proposed bylaws carefully define "empowered member" and "participant", with attention given to the rights of non-resident and absent members. See Section XXX.)

5. The tentative policy becomes final when it is recorded in the minutes book and the wording approved.


Non-major decisions can be made outside of meeting if no one objects. We skip the consensus stage, and determine middle-ground as in #3 above. Anyone who objects to this middle-ground becoming policy, may block it's adoption at this stage by putting the matter on the agenda.


We propose a review of this method after one year. Our decision-making process may be changed, then or at anytime, by the method described above, including the 2 month waiting period required for bylaw changes.

Shall we buy a fiberglass tub/shower for $800 installed?
Yes Middle No
Iris Gleason Levana Vim
Tentative middle-ground decision: we don't buy it.

How much shall we budget to fix up the shower stall?

$100 $150 $200
Vim/Gleason Levana Iris
Tentative middle-ground decision: $125. Budgeted.

How shall we fix the shower/tub enclosure?

Coat it with asphalt @ $50
. Ceramic tile @ $850.
Gleason Iris Vim Levana

Tentative middle-ground decision: asphalt.