Wikipedia has this to say about Deliberation:

Deliberation is a process of thoughtfully weighing options… Deliberation emphasizes the use of logic and reason as opposed to power-struggle, creativity, or dialog. Group decisions are generally made after deliberation through a vote or consensus of those involved.

I’ve always liked the notion of deliberation and deliberate decision making. I particularly like the notion of using logic and reason as opposed to power-struggle.

Deliberation is the process we use to make decisions at USV. We use our weekly Monday Meetings (something many/most VC firms do) to facilitate the deliberate decision making process. Though it can be frustrating to me at times, the use of “power” or tenure in our firm is not particularly effective. A logical and reasoned argument works much better. Including when it is made against you.

We don’t vote at USV. We use consensus after deliberation to make decisions. The trick to making that work is forcing a decision. The market often forces that on us and, frankly, that is quite helpful. But even without the market forcing our hand, we have developed a sense of urgency in our decision making. Our culture doesn’t like to allow decisions to hang out there. So we discuss, deliberate, and decide.

Partnership driven decision making is not easy. Having a “decider”, as George W Bush liked to say, is a lot easier. But I’ve been working in partnerships for about thirty years now so it’s the way I’ve always worked. And when you get the process right, in our case discuss, deliberate, and decide, it works quite well.