Creating the Future, One Decision at a Time

Inclusive decision-making creates a future in which everyone can thrive by considering a broader range of perspectives and needs. (image: freepik)

Our Crises of Exclusion

Our current crises are in part caused by exclusion from decision-making. For example:

  • Economics: Employees are not consulted about working conditions. The result is exploitative work, burnout culture, and The Great Resignation.
  • Race: People of color are marginalized from decisions that affect their lives. The result is pervasive and persistent racism.
  • Politics: Voters are excluded from selecting their representatives. The result is predatory government.
  • Environment: Young people are excluded from decisions about the planet they will inherit. The result is environmental destruction.
Exclusion is complex and intersectional, resulting in multiple exclusions for multiply marginalized individuals. (images, clockwise from top-left: LA Times, Moms Clean Air Force, Amazon, Care.org)

From Defuturing to Futuring

Design theorist and philosopher Tony Fry calls these exclusionary trends “defuturing, the elimination of possible futures.

“Defuturing” eliminates possible futures. “Futuring,” by contrast, increases tomorrow’s possibilities. (image: grmarc)

Fortunately, we can also engage in “futuring,” expanding the livability of the future and increasing tomorrow’s possibilities.

We took our participatory design skills and shifted them forward.

This past year, we decided that Do Big Good should do futuring work. We took our participatory design skills and shifted them forward. We used to facilitate inclusive evaluation. Now, we facilitate inclusive decisions.

Inclusive Decision-Making — A Futuring Strategy

Inclusive decision-making is a futuring strategy, a way of expanding possibilities for a greater number of people.

Inclusive decision-making is a means of operationalizing shared power and creating a future in which everyone can thrive.

But how?

Decisions are agreements on future action, a fulcrum between what’s now and what’s next. They’re a means of shifting power forward.

Here’s how:

  • Defuturing Decisions: Only those currently in power decide. The decision itself carries exclusion forward. A less equitable future is created.
  • Futuring Decisions: Excluded stakeholders also participate. The decision instead carries inclusion forward. A more equitable future is created.

This is the logic of our work at Do Big Good. Here’s how we do it, in five simple steps:

Learn more about our five-step process for inclusive decision-making at dobiggood.com/services.

Inclusive decision-making rejects the zero-sum logic of exclusion. As equity designers Caroline Hill, Michelle Molitor, and Christine Ortiz wrote in 2016:

“[S]hared power is in the interest of everyone and does not require a growth in the ranks of the powerless.”

Inclusive decision-making is a means of operationalizing shared power. It’s a means of creating a future in which everyone can thrive.

Let’s Create the Future Together

Do Big Good is working to create a future of maximal possibility. We invite you to work with us. We partner with:

  • Private Sector: Helping businesses make decisions with their employees and the communities in which they operate.
  • Social Sector: Helping foundations and nonprofits make decisions with the grantees they support and the communities they serve.
  • Public Sector: Helping government agencies make decisions with their constituents.

Let’s build an equitable and sustainable future together, one decision at a time.

Mer Joyce (she/her) is the founder of Do Big Good, a Seattle-based inclusive decision-making firm that helps private, public, and social sector clients make critical decisions with their stakeholders and communities.

You can email her at mer @ dobiggood . com or schedule a meeting at calend.ly/dobiggood.

inclusive decision-making // www.dobiggood.com

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