We define “deliberation” as a permanent conversation (interaction) supported in consensus values that takes place within a community, generating knowledge and therefore feeding its identity.
Deliberation, consensus, and decision
Deliberation is a social machine for creating common contexts. It is not a system for collective decision-making, but the process that gives birth to a community and allows it to grow, developing new abilities and knowledge of its own.
Deliberation is a reflection of the logic of abundance, so in general terms it produces diversity, not homogeneity. However, a permanent deliberative process generates a good measure of consensus, and limits that space of diversity out of the space of what the community considers its «foundations» (a set of references, values, and ways of doing).
The more deliberation deepens, the freer the members of a community will feel to act on their own, because the clearer the spaces of consensus will be.
Deliberation and organizational democracy
That is why decision-making mechanisms, as democratic as they might be, cannot substitute a rich and deep deliberative process. We know that when an organization lacks a wide base of common consensus, when there has not been sufficient deliberation, imposing systems of democratic decision-making on them only reinforces passivity and facilitates the control of the decision-making processes by external groups.
In general, deliberation and the consensus it produces reduce the spaces that require collective decision-making. The result is more freedom and individual autonomy, greater collective diversity, and more people actively involved in democratic decision processes.