If you’re wondering how decisions are made at makesense, if you have heard about freedom-form or liberated, horizontal organizations, shared responsibility or holacracy but have no idea what it means, this article should help you.

Before we explain our governance model, let’s look back at some important information to understand how far we’ve come. makesense is what’s called a community based model. Ever since its creation, the strength of makesense has been the commitment of thousands of volunteers who give their time and energy to engage with makesense on causes that matter to them. Thanks to the dynamism of the community, makesense initially developed as a collective of entrepreneurs who worked side by side on different projects that furthered the impact and learnings achieved with our volunteer community. This provided income to sustain the support for the community.

Even before we started thinking about our governance, we already had 2 particularities which distinguish us from many organizations: an organizational model without a CEO with a culture of decentralized decision-making and the conviction that our community should be at the heart of our decision-making model.

In 2017 and 2018, we reviewed all of our decision-making processes and governance bodies. Our governance model is now based on the following principles:

_Our model is rooted in trust rather than control and assumes that everyone is fundamentally a good person who wishes to serve our common mission. Trust is at the heart of each and every collaboration.

_There is no unique way to solve a problem or make a decision. Everyone has the right to make mistakes and learn from them.

_Conflict is part of the life of an organisation. It must be accepted and treated via dedicated processes.

_We are the same person at work and outside, so we do not want the people to wear masks at work. The more we know ourselves, the more we can evolve and make the project grow.

At makesense, our decision-making processes are based on the principles mentioned above and strongly guided by our values.

Our decision-making processes are based on the principle of seeking advice. To decide, your seniority in the company does not matter, neither being the “boss” or “manager” but you simply need to consult the people who are going to be affected by the particular decision and those who have experience or expertise. Once the opinions have been heard, everyone in the organization is trusted to take the best possible decision.

To support everyone in decision-making and also to help facilitate conflicts that may arise in these processes, we have created a pool of coaches: employees trained in mediation and non-violent communication to help in the event of conflicts.

The community board, composed by 15 members of our volunteer community, represents the voice of the community in every decision. It is solicited whenever the community’s opinion is needed.

Some decisions could jeopardize makesense (large unbudgeted expenses, association with other brands, change of our mission…). We have therefore elected a body composed of employees and volunteers (5 people) who can handle decisions that may endanger makesense (2% to 5% of the decisions taken). This body is called the waterline and it is elected for 2 years through an election process without candidates. The body is part of the board of the makesense association.

In summary, our model can be illustrated by the following diagram:

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