15 people attended a workshop on consensus decision making tonight:
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.
Consensus is neither compromise nor unanimity – it aims to go further by weaving together everyone’s best ideas and most important concerns – a process that often results in surprising and creative solutions, inspiring both the individual and the group as whole.
At the heart of consensus is a respectful dialogue between equals. It’s about everyone working together to meet both the individual’s and the group’s needs – working with each other rather than for or against each other, something that requires openness and trust.
an onion being peeled – layers marked want, really want, actually need
Consensus is looking for ‘win-win’ solutions that are acceptable to all – no decision will be made against the will of an individual or a minority. Instead the group adapts to all its members’ needs. If everyone agrees to a decision they will all be much more committed to making it happen.
Consensus decision making is based on the idea that people should have full control over their lives and that power should be shared by all, not just concentrated in the hands of a few. It’s about having the freedom to decide one’s own course in life and the right to play an equal role in creating a common future. This is why it is used widely in groups working towards a more just and equitable society such as small voluntary groups, co-operatives and campaign networks.
To learn more about consensus decision making see http://www.seedsforchange.org.uk/free/shortconsensus