In principle, consensus generally means that all perspectives are heard and all concerns are addressed, resulting in decisions that all participants can willingly consent to. Many groups aspire to make decisions by consensus but very few have specific protocols in place to guide its implementation. There is no Robert’s Rules of Order for consensus. Groups often plunge ahead resolved to “use consensus” but with few or no structural underpinnings.
Practical Tip: If you are going to use consensus as your official decision-making method, be specific at the outset about what it means. How, specifically, will you make sure that all perspectives are heard, all concerns are addressed, and what steps will be followed when there is a “block?” Once decided, follow your rules with a degree of formality.
Structure and protocol are just as important in consensus decision making as in any other type of decision making. Being casual about the rules just makes a mess.
– Craig Freshley
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4 thoughts on “Consensus doesn’t mean casual”
Hi Craig, this Tip is a great reminder that consensus doesn’t just “happen”. And I want to let readers know that we have a handout called Consensus Simple Steps that explains how to hear all perspectives, address all concerns, and handle blocks. Here’s the link: https://www.goodgroupdecisions.com/consensus-simple-steps/
The newly revised 10th Edition of Robert’s Rules of Order has quites a lot of information regarding Consensus, and the organizations I belong to support the Use opf the Revised Robert’s Rules for all our meetings. Thanks
The book “On Conflict and Consensus” has a great structure for the consensus process, I think. Have you read it recently? If you google it the whole book is offered as a choice to view. It is a start.
Thanks for your work!
You make a very good point. Consensus without ground rules can result in decisions being made by the vocal majority. Your point about giving everyone a chance to be heard is excellent.