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

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