21 Apr

How to get your own way

… if you are the chairman of a committee.

This is incredible – it’s a first-hand account of how Norway’s OOXML vote was changed from No to Yes in the space of one meeting (No meaning “there are problems with the proposal, we should not support it”, and Yes meaning “there are no problems with the proposal, and it should be supported”).

The meeting started with the chairman, who is not a technical man and has little understanding of the problems of OOXML, stating that this meeting would not adjourn until there was consensus on either Yes or No.

What followed was a real life “Monty Hall” whittle – The meeting started with 30 people voting, most of whom did not vote yes. There was no consensus, so most of the voters were asked to leave the room. Then the vote was taken again. People still had different opinions, so more people were asked again. This repeated until there was only one vote left – the chairman’s. And so Norway’s vote was decided.

So what’s wrong with that?

Let’s say the vote was about slavery. The question was – should slavery be allowed. Let’s say that the chairman didn’t understand the need to treat all humans as sovereign, and was the only person voting “Yes”.

In the first round, the chairman would vote “Yes”, and everyone else votes No. No consensus, so most of the voters are asked to leave. Again, the vote is taken, and again, the tally has one Yes, and many Nos – no consensus. So more people are asked to leave. this process continues until all voters are in agreement. You guessed it – the chairman wins.

This voting process is hilarious because it has actually happened! I’m frankly astounded that there is less outcry.

This is an example of dictatorship – a question was asked, and everyone that gave an answer different to the chairman’s was removed from the room. Eventually, he was the only person left, and so the “vote” was tallied as 100% Yes.