Consensus does not just happen. Certain conditions must prevail in order for a group to reach a clear agreement that (almost) everyone will support.
IIFAC’s recently published, free Guide to Consensus Process mentions five factors that can increase the odds that your group can effectively use this approach for making key decisions.
- Commitment to learning a new way to discuss and decide important issues.
- Training. Get help to avoid falling into the common mistakes made by groups who lack a solid understanding of how the process works.
- Shared vision and joint action. The group needs to have some sort of common purpose and an intention to take action together. Otherwise, why bother with consensus?
- Membership is defined and stable but not closed. Consensus functions best when there is trust and caring among the members of the group. These conditions are more likely prevail when members know who else is in the room.
- Good facilitation. As a professional facilitator, I am biased on this issue! But I am also a participant in many meetings and have seen the damage that can be done when no one takes responsibility for preparing an agenda, keeping the discussion on track and at the appropriate moment, carrying out the decision-making process.
To learn more about what consensus is and how to use it effectively, download IIFAC’s free Guide to Consensus Process.