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'What to do with the extra money?' Proposal Forming in action

During the buildup to a recent workshop in Portugal, a tension arose which revealed the following Driver:

A large network of change-makers and communities in Portugal are interested in learning about S3. Portugal's economy is fragile and the financial situation of potential participants is below average. We want that people who are truly motivated to learn and who wish to integrate S3 in their working environment, have the opportunity to attend the workshop.

Formulating a Strategy:

Along with the two organisers, James and I agreed on a Strategy to satisfy the Driver. We decided on a price per participant that would cover the bottom line fee for facilitation, and that covered other costs for the workshop. We offered discounts for people who explicitly expressed a wish to attend despite financial limitations. We gave the opportunity for those who had the means and wished to, to contribute further, and for the group to practice their learning by decided together what to do with any extra money. In order to achieve this we also decided to make all financials transparent with the group.

It turned out that there was a surplus of money and a need to decide what to do with it.

Following the workshop a group of participants with interest in applying S3 patterns to a real situation, came together to decide how to distribute the extra funds using the Proposal Forming Process.

What follows is an account of what happened, shared later by a Note-Taker for the process.

Note: Those of you familiar with S3 proposal forming will observe that the group overlooked step 1, "hear and answer relevant questions people have to further understand the Driver". You'll see as often happens when people miss steps in the process, the missed elements come up later anyway.

Hi all,

A few days have passed since our S3 training at Biovilla. I hope everybody had a chance to get back to their lives and work, and start integrating all that we've learned and lived in those 4 days.

As you know, after the official end of the training on the last day, a group of us decided to meet in circle and apply the Proposal Forming and Consent Decision Making processes to a real situation that arose: "what to do with the money ?"

Part of the decision was to share with all of you the complete process and decision notes, supporting the principles of Transparency and Accountability.

As a personal note, I must say that this was THE "cherry on top" for the whole training, having the chance to apply the method on a real situation, with tensions, emotions, stress (little time), several objections and a whole hearted consent in the end, the proof that you must "live it to believe it"


Gratitude to all for his great experience in Consent Decision Making!

Personal Disclaimer:

As the appointed LOGBOOK KEEPER role, what follows is my best interpretation of what happened, based on my (very rough) notes and memory.

None of this was shared beforehand with the other members of the meeting.

There are no quotes of what people said, the phrases were constructed from my notes and memory.

If any of those present do not agree with what is written please come forward and say so ;-)

The text is also annotated with personal remarks to explain what happened in a way to attempt a "replay", a written script so that you can all imagine you were there and also some personal opinions about what happened ;)

The log format does not follow any S3 or Sociocracy meeting minutes structure




MEMBER CIRCLE: Sophie Marie, Allan, Adi, Paulo, Laura, Rui, Sameera, Paula, Sophie

[Personal Remarks] Meeting started with some confusion on what we were doing but we quickly agreed to clearly define a simple DRIVER and run through the Proposal Forming and Consent Decision Making processes. Although the DRIVER was not written formally, we all agreed on something simple so that we could move forward to the process.

DRIVER: "There is a surplus of money on the final balance for the training course and there is a need to decide on what to do with that amount of money"


[Personal Remark] A round of Considerations as Questions was done and after no more questions arose, they were answered, first clarified by whom made them and then answered by all in an informal way.

Q1. [Rui] Who received what already ? {n.a: information gathering question)

We went through all the stakeholders in the balance sheet and reviewed each line to clarify.

Q2. [Sameera] Where did the extra money come from ? {n.a: this is actually a question to clarify the Driver, not a question related to the proposal}

It was clarified that the extra money (donations) was on the "Other In" line in the balance sheet

[Personal Remark] (that was not clear for some of the members)

Q3. [Adi] What are the bursaries in the balance sheet ? {n.a: this is actually a question to clarify the Driver, not a question related to the proposal}

It was clarified that the bursaries were "scholarship discounts" made by the organisation for some participants.

[Personal Remark] There was no further information about this.

Q4. [Paulo] Who needs the money most ?

We all agreed we could not answer this question objectively. {n.a. thus, it's a generative question}

Q5. [Laura] What are important (values) for this group's members ?

This question was considered not relevant for the process {n.a. I would call this an information gathering question as well. Since there is no clear answer, it becomes a generative question, because it inspires people to think about the values they want to consider while suggesting possible solutions).

[Personal Remark] The group agreed to trust the process, be effective and focus on finding the solution and decision


P1. [Adi] Money should go to Laura and Diogo and they should decide.

P2. [Paulo] Money should go to Laura and Diogo and they should decide

P3. [Laura] (Said she would not participate in Proposal Forming and Consent Decision Making, staying only as an observer from this point forward)

P4. [Rui] Money should be used to subsidise future workshop participants (subsaries) and be managed by Laura and Diogo (Inspired on the model used in Vipassana Meditation Retreats)

P5. [Sameera] Money should go to Laura and Diogo and they should decide.

P6. [Paula] Money should go to Laura and Diogo and they should donate it.

P7. [Sophie] 25€ should be returned to Diogo to cover for the parking costs, the rest should stay with Laura and Diogo but the money should stay in Portugal.

P8. [Sophie Marie] Money should go to Laura and Diogo and they should find a way to celebrate the success of the training and then decide what to do.

P9. [Allan] (backed both Sophie and Sophie Marie’s proposals as one)


[Sophie Marie]: Chooses Paulo to “Tune a Proposal”

[Paulo]: Money stays with Laura and Diogo, Diogo receives 25€ for the parking costs, the rest stays in Portugal for future S3 workshops or events

QUICK RESPONSE ROUND: Everybody says “Almost Great”, except for Adi.

CONSENT ROUND: [Adi] Objects: We should trust Laura and Diogo to make the right decision for the money


[Sophie Marie]: Money should go to Laura and Diogo and they should decide.

[Personal Remark] There was no Quick Response Round, from this point forward, we went straight to Consent Round

CONSENT ROUND: [Paulo and Rui] Object: The group suggestions about the money should be added to the proposal.



  • Money should go to Laura and Diogo and we TOTALLY trust they will decide what’s the best use for it.

  • We will share all the details of the meeting process (proposal forming and consent decision making) with Laura, Diogo so that they can benefit from the suggestions that were made. The log will be also shared with all the course participants and facilitators.


[Additional Personal Opinions]

In Proposal #1 Adi was concerned his objection would slow the decision process (he hesitated to Object) but he really felt that by making these decisions we were not trusting Laura and Diogo’s best judgment. His objection (in my opinion) was key to finding a consent agreement quickly because it showed what was “invisible” in the proposals: a potential wrong message about "trust" while trying to help decide the best destination for the money.

In Proposal #2, someone said that sharing our suggestions was not necessary since Laura was in the meeting...I followed Paulo’s objection since it would be important that the group’s collective intelligence was shared with Laura and Diogo and if, by chance, Laura was not present (since she was not involved in the decision process anyway), that knowledge could be lost if it was not part of the proposal.

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