Democratic Decision Making

Majority Rules

Democratic decision making works well when choices are clear cut, when your team is well informed, and when your culture embraces majority rule.

  • Slow – Fast 60% 60%
  • Independent – Collaborative 60% 60%
  • Hierarchical – Egalitarian 50% 50%
  • Private – Transparent 60% 60%

Democratic decision-making is when a leader gives up authority over a decision and presents a series of options to a group of people to vote on. The option accepted by the majority of the group is then enacted. Everyone accepts the process.

The democratic system, or “rule of the majority,” is usually traced to ancient Greek, although it’s probable that people have been voting in one form or another throughout human history. 


  • Transparent process
  • Relatively fair
  • People easily grasp where the process begins and ends (unlike consensus and consent)


  • Lack of ownership on implementing decisions – “I didn’t vote for that!”
  • Vulnerable to groupthink or political campaigning
  • The majority feels little need to compromise with the minority
  • Very dependent on what options are provided and how well are those explained.

The Process

  1. Assess the situation and develop your options
  2. Call a meeting for voting
  3. Designate an advocate for each option
  4. Hold a timed debate between the advocates
  5. Vote (yes, no, abstain)
  6. Count the votes
  7. In the case of a stalemate remove the option with lease votes and vote again.
  8. Repeat steps 5-7


In case you have your options ready,we have a great jig for you. You can use NextDecision for your steps 5-7.

Common Mistakes, Challenges and Traps

The tyranny of the majority

If you use the voting, again and again, there is a good chance that low-power voters or diverse views will be repeatedly rejected. First, be sure to restrict voting rights to people who will be directly affected by the decision.

Second, consider giving more air time to less prominent voices during the discussion.


Fear of conflict

Because voting visibly pits one group against another, participants who tend to avoid conflict may remain silent even if they have valuable insights to contribute. Before voting begins and factions have the chance to emerge, ask participants to write down their position and any questions they may have.