An objection is an argument – relating to a proposal, existing agreement, or activity being conducted by one or more members of the organization – that reveals consequences or risks that are preferably avoided for the organization, or that demonstrates worthwhile ways to improve.

You can think of objections as a simple tool for harvesting distributed intelligence and improving decision-making.

Be aware that withholding objections can harm the ability of individuals, teams or the whole organization to achieve their objectives.

In an organization that is following the Principle of Consent it’s the responsibility of individuals to raise possible objections to proposals, existing agreements, and activity – if and when they become aware of them – with those who are directly responsible for the decision or activity in question. In turn, those with that responsibility need to consider those arguments and address the ones that qualify as objections. Objections prevent proposals becoming agreements, without first considering the argument and making a conscious and explicit agreement about how to deal with it. The same is true for existing decisions and activities.

When reflecting on whether or not you have any objections to a proposal, existing agreement, or activity, consider the following questions.

  • How would continuing in this way fail to adequately respond to the driver and or fulfill the requirement that the proposal or agreement is intended to address in an effective way? (effectiveness)
  • How would continuing in this way lead to undesirable consequences or risks in the same domain, in the wider organization or beyond? (side-effects)
  • How would continuing in this way lead to waste, or miss out on worthwhile ways to improve? (efficiency)

Note: A worthwhile improvement is one where the cost of improving, in terms of the time, energy and resources it would require, would be outweighed by the anticipated gains the change would lead to.

The information revealed by objections can be used to improve:

  • current and planned activity
  • how people execute on decisions
  • existing agreements
  • proposals
  • shared understanding of drivers

Aim for “good enough for now and safe enough to try” decisions

Creating a culture where people feel comfortable to raise possible objections enables you to harness a diversity of perspectives, and to broaden your own.

If no one has an objection or if arguments that qualify as objections have been resolved, a decision can be considered good enough for now and safe enough to try.

The purpose of identifying, testing and resolving objections to proposals and existing agreements is not to reach or ensure a ‘perfect’ decision, but rather one that is good enough for now and safe enough to try. This means that, as far as the people involved in the decision-making were able to determine, for now, there are no known consequences or risks that would be better avoided, and no worthwhile improvements either.

In the case of complex matters, approaching decision-making in an iterative and incremental way encourages people to try things out, instead of attempting to anticipate and account for all possibilities in advance. It encourages developing a preference for trying things out, instead of attempting to anticipate and account for all possibilities in advance.

A regular cadence for evaluating significant decisions and deliberately checking for objections to continuing with a decision unchanged, provides further opportunities to identify ways to improve existing agreements. And, it helps people to relax into making decisions that are good enough for now and safe enough to try (see Evaluate and Evolve Agreements). This approach supports a journey of experimentation and discovery, and evolving decisions based on learning over time.


Not all arguments raised are objections, but they might reveal concerns.

A concern is an assumption that cannot (for now at least) be backed up by reasoning or enough evidence to qualify as an objection to those who are considering it.

Concerns don’t prevent proposals becoming agreements, only objections do. Nevertheless, considering people’s concerns can provide insight into how to further evolve proposals and agreements, including making changes to an agreement that alleviates the concern, adding certain evaluation criteria, or adjusting the frequency of the evaluation. This is why it’s important to bring up concerns if you think it’s valuable to consider them. However, determining whether an argument is an objection or concern is sometimes dependent on context. Therefore, if you are in doubt about whether you have an objection or a concern, be proactive and check with others to see what they think too (see Test Arguments Qualify as Objections).