Should my group try to make decisions by consensus?

The short answer is: Maybe.

Here are some conditions that work against the successful adoption of consensus process:

  • Leadership values control over collaboration, that is, the leaders do not want to share decision-making power.
  • Membership in the group is not clearly defined so it is hard to know who decides.
  • High turnover among participants prevents building trust or momentum.
  • Facilitators and/or participants are untrained in the process, leading to confusion and/or distortion of the method.
  • The group does not intend to make and implement decisions together, preferring to debate, discuss or study issues without any need to take action.

Turning this list on its head, you can identify some of the characteristics that suggest when a group might benefit from consensus process:

  • Leadership and members are committed to learning and practicing the method.
  • Initial training and on-going coaching is available.
  • The group has a clear purpose that unites the members.
  • Membership is relatively stable and new members receive training in the process.
  • Meeting facilitators understand and support the consensus process.

To learn more about what consensus process is and how to apply it, read my recently published book, Introduction to Consensus.

Let´s keep striving to find ways to make decisions that move us toward the world we want to live in.

Need help deciding if consensus is a good fit for your group? Contact us to schedule a free consultation to discuss your coaching needs.

About the Author:

Beatrice Briggs is the founder and director of the International Institute for Facilitation and Change, a consulting firm based in Mexico. A Certified™ Professional Facilitator, she puts her years of experience at the service of leaders who want to make their meetings worth the time, talent and money invested in them. A native of the United States, Beatrice has lived in Mexico since 1998, working in both English and Spanish to alleviate the suffering caused by bad meetings wherever they occur.