The Opposition Query

The opposition query is a simple decision-making procedure that aims to bring about the most viable decision for a group. It is a consensus process - the goal is to come to a decision with the least resistance (opposition). 

If there is a high resistance against an option then it should be discussed and the best possible solution should be integrated - whether this means changing existing proposals or adding something new altogether (which of course should be voted on). 

We use a scale from 0 to 5:

0 = no resistance

1 = very low resistance

2 = low medium resistance

3 = medium resistance

4 = high resistance

5 = very high resistance

Steps for implementation

1. Introduce and present a need for a decision

Someone (a person/group/entity) presents a decision submission. It is extremely helpful if this is formulated as clearly as possible such that it is unambiguous, well-delineated, and free of contradictions. If a decision is not clear, the submission can/must be returned for further elaboration.

It is helpful if the submission is documented in writing. In addition, it may be appropriate to ask the submitters to neatly articulate the actual decision in addition to a more detailed explanation if necessary (what is the decision about, why should the decision be made, what will happen if we do not make the decision ...). A standardized form might be, "What is your level of resistance to us making the [decision]?"

2. Pertinent questions

It is a good idea to give space for pertinent questions. This can take the form of a meeting or asynchronous. It should be clear who has the responsibility to answer pertinent questions. At the end of this step, there should be no ambiguity left about the content so that the participants can make an informed and reflective decision.

3. Round of opinion (optional)

It may be useful to hold an opinion session on the decision-making need. It is highly recommended to do this synchronously or through dialog. This step can be skipped or take place during the next step.

4. Collect further decision proposals

As a result of the opinion round or in this step, alternative or supplementary proposals can be collected. Thus, participants can bring in their own proposals for voting or take up one of the existing proposals and expand/modify it and bring it in as their own proposal. The ACTUAL state (status quo without change. "everything remains as it is") can also be included at this point.

5. Opposition query

Once all options have been collected, each person indicates their own resistance level to each proposition. The resistance scale must be clear, e.g. 0 (no resistance) to 5 (very high resistance). Please note that it is not about giving your personal favorite option the lowest resistance, and all other options the highest resistance! It is important to evaluate for yourself each option in isolation and not in relation to the other options: "Suppose we decide to go for this option; what is my resistance against it?" Only when this is done cleanly and honestly will we get a realistic picture of the resistance and, as a result, the most viable decision because it faces the lowest resistance.

6. Documentation

At the very least, there should be documentation of what decision was made. Depending on the context, it may be appropriate to also make transparent the alternative proposals as well as the overall result or the individual voting behavior.

Framework conditions

It should be clear:

  • who introduces the decision.
  • who makes the decision (who is entitled to vote; if necessary, with explanation of why, e.g. legitimation/authorization).
  • who answers pertinent questions.
  • if applicable, who owns/carries out the decision-making process.
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This content was last updated on 08/18/2022.

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