This common misconception that “we all decide everything together” is a recipe for frustration and failure. True consensus process does not mean endless meetings and little forward momentum toward common goals.
Key concept: Decide on strategic goals and then get out of the way.
Once the whole group reaches consensus about vision, values and strategic priorities, then the tactical decisions about how to get there should be delegated to those responsible for implementation.
Give these teams a budget and the tools to succeed. Establish clear limits about what kind of decisions need to be brought back to the whole group (for example, expenditures over a set limit, changes in policy or direction, issues requiring legal counsel, etc.) Otherwise, move out of the way and let people get on with the work!
Often “everyone decides everything” is a symptom of lack of trust among the individuals in the group, but, believe me, trust is not built by micro-managing day-to- day decisions.
Sometimes it is a sign that at least some of the members want to spend more time together. Great! Have more parties, hikes or cultural outings – not more meetings!
Creating and sustaining an effective group is a challenge under any circumstances. Clarifying your decision making structure is an important piece of the puzzle.
If you think consensus might be useful for your group, read my recently published book Introduction to Consensus
and send me your thoughts and questions!
Let´s keep striving to find ways to make decisions that move us toward the world we want to live in.