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Category Archives: Facilitation

Consensus Decisionmaking at IAF Oceania 2016 Conference

Diverse People

Facilitating for Consensus

One of the many roles facilitators are called on to play is to be an independent party to assist groups to make consensus decisions.

What is consensus?

What is considered group consensus depends on many variables including the culture and community, the nature of the task or decision, and the commitment required from participants to implement any decision outcomes.

In addition, the effectiveness of different consensus building methodologies will be affected by variables such as the time available, the size of the group, and the literacy and other skill levels of participants.

“Consensus generates a decision about which everyone says, ‘I can live with it’.” Ingrid Bens[1] 

“It means arriving at a decision each member of the group can accept and support.” Fred Niziol & Kathy Free[2] 

“Consensus is the process – a participatory process by which a group thinks and feels together, enroute to their decision.” Sam Kaner[3]

It is important to note that consensus is not unanimity – although some groups may require unanimity for consensus as part of their culture.

Learn More about Consensus at the IAF Oceania 2016 Conference

On the first day of the IAF Oceania 2016 Conference Pushing the Boundaries in Melbourne my workshop Process Tools for Engaging Participants  will include exploring together:

  • Pros and Cons of Consensus Decision Making
  • When is Consensus Decision Making Most Valuable?
  • Tools that Assist in Achieving Consensus

We’ll practice an approach to consensus decision-making that:

  • Encourages groups to listen carefully when there is disagreement and encourages listening twice if necessary
  • Doesn’t allow a solution to be watered down because a few disagree

Although there may be one or two who don’t like the final decision, this type of consensus ensures that everyone is heard and heard well.

Do join me and lots of facilitator colleagues!

Conference runs from 25 – 27 May 2016 with Pre-Conference Workshops  on 24 & 25 May.

Sheryl Smail CPF

[1] Ingrid Bens Facilitating With Ease 2nd Edition San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2005

[2] Fred Niziol & Kathy Free The IAF Handbook; Chapter 19 The Team Start Up; Jossey-Bass, 2005

[3] Sam Kaner et al, Facilitator’s Guide To Participatory Decision-Making 2nd Edition San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2007

Sheryl Smail presenting

Next month I’ll be off to Melbourne for the May 2016 IAF Oceania Conference pushing the boundaries of facilitation. I’m going to be facilitating a workshop designed to strengthen less experienced facilitators’ tool kits. It’ll be a lot of fun!!
We’ll explore and practice together common process tools for facilitating meetings more easily and productively, a methodology for achieving consensus and a fabulous multi-purpose facilitation framework. This is a fantastic opportunity to share your insights and challenges and learn from others.
Look forward to meeting up with lots of facilitator colleagues from around the globe there!
Ka kite
Sheryl Smail

New Learning for Online Meetings continued

I’ve found a couple of ‘free’ websites that have reduced markedly my time and effort in working across time zones.  Each has far more capabilities than I’ve outlined below.  I have simply covered the functions that have been invaluable for me.

This website lets me include a link in meeting invites giving the equivalent time and date for each time zone.  I have also set up a Personal World Clock using the time zones that are relevant for me. It also has an Event Planner tool. I can determine best meeting times etc. The information is colour coded for ease of seeing usual ‘working’, ‘awake but may not be working’ and ‘sleeping’ hours.

With Doodle I can check out the availability of essential personnel before establishing a meeting time.  The beauty of it is I don’t need to convert my time into the equivalent time in each of the other participant’s time zones – it does it for us!  Also, I get notified when people respond, I see graphically how many people ‘can’, ‘could if need necessary’, or ‘can’t’ make a certain time and also what is the most popular time.

Learning New Online Meeting Skills

I have learnt so much in the last few months about working across time zones to make things happen. In my Director role with the International Association of Facilitators,
I have global Professional Development accountabilities.  This has resulted in me having to transition from being a participant in multi-participant online meetings to facilitating them.  My sense is that I’m not on my own with this steep learning curve.  If you’re interested, I plan to share some of my learnings as I go along.  Today I share some of my learnings about simply getting ready for the event.  And believe me, even with wonderful support from experienced colleagues, I’ve still learnt the hard way!

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