Re: Questioning Consensus
From: Mac Thomson (
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 1995 13:48:35 -0500
Dan Suchman,

Thank you for your lengthy post on the appropriateness (or rather,
inappropriateness) of consensus to American cohousing.  That kind of
intelligent and civil discussion is why I so much enjoy coho-l.  I also
appreciated the paragraph headings, which I find make long posts much easier
to digest.

Our group is just forming and since inception, I've acted as Project Manager
and have had sole control over decisions (so far I've put in 100% of the
money and 98% of the time, but the "Project Manager" strategy is grist for
another post).  We plan to use consensus and I've done a fair amount of
research and procedure documenting in preparation of that day.  In my
research, I've never come across anything the indicates that consensus and
delegation are incompatible.  Like you, I can't conceive of trying to manage
any operation of more than a dozen people without lots of delegation.

> I suggest that consensus  does not preclude delegation.  In fact, the
> larger the community (and all communities of more than about 12
> people), the more essential is delegation to the effective operation
> of group decision-making.  I believe this to be true regardless of
> whether  the prevailing decision-making mechanism is consensual or
> democratic, hierarchical  or egalitarian.

In one of my previous lives, I partnered in managing a business of several
hundred people.  We, of course, delegated 99% of the decisions made in the
company.  How could we do it any other way?  And not only is delegation
effective and efficient, it's tremendously empowering (to use an overused,
overpopular word).  When people have some autonomy over a decision, they feel
that they are trusted and have a direct impact on the operation, and they
therefore feel much more connected.  And isn't this a big part of why we
choose to live in cohousing rather than just being  a resident of a city - to
feel connected to our community, to be trusted, to have a direct impact?

Like all things, delegation must be used wisely and can get us into trouble
if it's not, but to discard it as one of our fundamental decision making
tools is unthinkable to me.

Thanks again for your post.

    Mac Thomson                         San Juan Cohousing
    Mac [at]           Durango, Colorado

  "I used to be an agnostic, but now I'm not so sure."

--Sent from HappyValley FirstClass BBS 904.246.9255

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