Friday, August 24, 2007


Enterprise Architecture: Consensus vs Democracy

"Democracy" in a workplace team environment can be a very bad thing, and "Consensus" in the workplace can be a very good thing...

"Democracy" is a process that enables a majority of members to impose their will on a minority, at any time they wish. "Consensus" is a state that explicitly acknowledges the value of each and every team member, no matter how unpopular his or her views may be at the time. I suspect that while it may be troubling to understand the value that some team members bring, it is important to spend some time figuring it out. Even being an impediment to progress sometimes has value.

Members of a "Democratic" team often learn that the best way to kill new ideas they find threatening is to demand an immediate vote. If you can force a vote before people can hear a new idea, you can kill it off, just about every time. Unfortunately, all the best ideas for improving a team process will be new and temporarily unpopular when first introduced. And after a team has done it's "Democratic Voting" process on an idea, it's often somewhere between "remarkably difficult" and impossible to get the team to reconsider a proposal.

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