When I approach a group I’d like to collaborate with, one of the first questions I ask is “how do you decide”. The answer gives me a good impression of where that group is at. Often the answer is confused and unclear. Most groups, I find, coast along with implicit decision-making processes until a challenging decision appears, so they are stuck having to decide how to decide with a contentious decision hanging over them. As you might expect it’s better for groups to figure this out before that happens.
No matter how flat the power structure, no matter how democratic a group claims to be, if there is someone in the group who can at any moment pick up the phone and have armed police come and veto any decision made by the collective, there is a tricky power dynamic.