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Consensus decision making is a creative and dynamic way of reaching agreement between all members of a group. Instead of simply voting for an item and having the majority of the group getting their way, a consensus group is committed to finding solutions that everyone actively supports - or at least can live with. This makes sure that all opinions, ideas and concerns are taken into account. By listening closely to each other, the group aims to come up with proposals that work for everyone. Process that often results in surprising and creative solutions, inspiring both the individual and the group as whole. Way of agreeing to disagree
Governance and Decision-making tools
Best forCan work in all types of settings - small groups, local communities, businesses, even whole nations and territories. The exact process may differ depending on the size of the group and other factors, but the basic principles are the same.

Group that aims to come up with proposals that work for everyone; to go further by weaving together everyone's best ideas and key concerns.

Groups working towards a more just and equitable society such as small voluntary groups, co-operatives and campaign networks.

Ongoing decision-making mechanism in standing organizations or communities, or less commonly, among groups gathered to make one-time decisions regarding a task at hand.
Other resourcesQueries that indicate the groups engagement towards consensus success.
Consensus process at its heart is a questioning process
Consensus decision making paper.
Steps explained:
Complete Guide:
1.Common goal: Everyone at the meeting needs to be united in a clear common goal – whether it's the desire to take action at a specific event, or a shared ethos. Being clear about the shared goal helps to keep a meeting focused and united.
2.Commitment to reaching consensus on all decisions: Consensus requires commitment, patience, tolerance and a willingness to put the group first. It can be damaging if individuals secretly want to return to majority voting, just waiting for the chance to say “I told you it wouldn't work.”
3.Trust and respect: We all need to trust that everyone shares our commitment, and respects our opinions.
4.Clear process: Everyone needs to understand the process for making decisions you are using. There are lots of variations of the consensus process, so even if people are experienced in using consensus they may use it differently to you! Explain the process at the beginning of the meeting.
5.Active participation: If we want a decision we all can agree on, we all need to play an active role in the decision ­making.
6.Good facilitation: Facilitation helps to ensure that the group works harmoniously, creatively and democratically. When your group is larger than just a handful of people or you are trying to make a difficult decisions appoint facilitators to help your meeting run more smoothly.
DistinctionsAn experience of shift from consensus to sociocracy

Consent versus consensus
Consensus decision-making is not a Significant Majority: consensus decision-making seeks to avoid the potential divisiveness of majority/minority decisions. Whenever there’s a minority that neither agrees with or consents to a decision, there’s potential for negative results.
Consensus is not Unanimity. The search for consensus relies on every person in the circle seeking unity. Group members don’t need to think the same, have the same opinion, or support the same proposal in a unanimous vote. Rather, what is earnestly sought is a sense of the meeting.
Alignment or Consensus. In cases of formal structure, consensus is unrealistic. Alignment suggests getting team members facing in the same direction. It means making a concerted effort to help people understand the issues and what their respective roles are. It means asking questions and listening to feedback both from the internal team, as well as others knowledgeable about or affected by the initiative. It means making the necessary adjustments in personnel and strategy as conditions change. In short, while “alignment” uses many of the consultative aspects of consensus process, it also acknowledges the leaders’ ultimate decision-making responsibility.
Rules / ProcessProcess:
Step 1: Be clear and ensure your clarity is share
Step 2: Have a broad and inclusive discussion – inclusive of wide range of people and ideas.
Step 3: Pull together, or synthesise, a proposal that arises from the best of all the group’s ideas, whilst simultaneously acknowledging concerns.
Step 4: Friendly amendments – tweak the proposal to make it even stronger.
Step 5: Test for consensus – do we have good quality agreement? :
1. Any blocks?
2. Any stand asides?
3. Do we have consensus?

Step 6: Make it happen.
Step 7: Evaluate
Step 8: Implement the decision.
-Sense that the common ground is stronger than the difference created by diversity.
-Be respectful and trust each other.
-Don't be afraid to express your ideas and opinions. If you don't understand something, don't be afraid to say so.
-Don't assume that someone must win and someone must lose.
-Look for the most acceptable solution for everyone.
-Think before you speak, listen before you object.
-Listen to others’ reactions, and consider them carefully before pressing your point.
-Remember that the ideal behind consensus is empowering versus overpowering, agreement versus majorities/minorities.
-Full empowerment of all participants in the decision making.
-Deep listening.
-Emphasis on continuing to ask questions until unity is reached.
-Honoring of dissent as a “piece of the truth” pointing to something the group needs to learn and integrate.
-Dynamics of working with all input rather than purely rational analysis (e.g., emotions, intuition, spirit)
-Choice to allocate more time if needed before the decision point in order to ensure maximum support for acting on whatever decision is reached.
-Don't be afraid of disagreement.

Key skills for consensus: Active Listening; Summarising; Synthesis.
Feb. 7th 2012 5:10:39 PM
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