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Playing Games with Decision Making

The Quakers have an interesting way of arriving at corporate decisions.

I have sat, as a visiting teacher, through some discussions in a Quaker college faculty. At the point where a chairman would normally declare the discussion ended and call for the vote, the Quakers often lay a matter on the table. We are not ready, they say, to make a decision. The Spirit needs more time to work. Better left open than ill decided.

What the Quakers seek is consensus. If not unanimity, then as close to it as possible. They know, of course, that matters cannot hang fire indefinitely; and Quaker success in business enterprise suggests that at least some of their faith know how to seize a conclusion and run with it. But for a visitor, the process is endlessly fascinating. Every facet gets looked at, and sometimes one can almost feel the forming of a common mind, the shift in sentiment, the opening of new perspective. If democracy is long in making up its mind, then Quaker democracy is often tortoise slow. ...

From Issue:Winter 1983: Church Health
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