Be sure that consensus decision-making does not become a unanimous, time-consuming process.

Consensus decision-making has the reputation of being very time-consuming. It needn’t be if the following steps are carefully followed. The failure of most supposed consensus procedures result from the failure to ask those objecting if they are willing to proactively help make the proposition work even though they are not in full agreement with it (step 6). That creates a unanimous decision-making process which can be impossible or at least very difficult to achieve.

  1. Generate and explore options regarding the decision to be made. Be sure that everyone has the opportunity to fully be heard.
  2. Notice when most of the group seems to be leaning toward a particular option.
  3. State the option as a proposed decision.
  4. Check with each person in turn whether or not they are in favor of the proposed decision. (If the proposition is not a particularly controversial one, simply ask for a show of hands regarding who is in favor and who is not in favor of the proposed decision.)
  5. Ask each person not in favor to fully state the reasons for their opposition. This is very important!
  6. After each statement, ask that person if s/he is willing to proactively help make the proposition work even though they are not in full agreement with it
  7. If a person feels so strongly about their objections that they are definitely not willing to help make the proposed decision work, ask the group to further consider those objections. This is rare, but when it does happen, the objection turns out to be an important one.
  8. Repeat 1 to 7 until consensus is reached.

When followed with some rigor, you will discover that the frustration and time-consumption that are often associated with consensus decision-making will be a thing of the past.