The advice process is a method of making decisions in a network of collaborating roles. The advice process contrasts markedly from the decision making process in a typical hierarchy, where one's position confers and limits one's authority to make decisions.
Using the advice process, anyone is empowered to make decisions by following the principles of the process:
- Describe the problem to be solved. Without a firm understanding of the problem, time is wasted and unnecessary conflict is created.
- Describe the solution that is desired. It is not necessary that everyone understands or agrees with the solution, but the person proposing to implement it should be able to communicate it effectively.
- Consult the people who would be affected by the change the person wants to make. This is an especially challenging part when working on something like an open-source project where we often don't know who is using the project. Working to improve this is a major part of implementing the advice process.
- Seeking input from people with relevant expertise. Nothing requires following someone else's recommendation, but if the person is going to disagree with someone who has relevant expertise, they should be able to articulate a very good reason for doing so.
The advice process is not a panacea, nor is it necessarily a conflict resolution mechanism. However, since it allows people to make progress solving problems without requiring everyone to agree ahead of time, it can significantly reduce needless, counter-productive conflict.