Re: Consensus training
From: Mona Loofs (
Date: Tue, 9 Dec 1997 20:35:53 -0600
>re: Training in using consensus
>Any comments on the general usefulness of consensus workshops?  In our
>group, using consensus without group training has been compared to
>trying to teach yourself to drive by reading a manual.  Can a group
>learn to use consensus effectively by reading a book, or by having
>several of its members attend training and then come back and train the
>rest of the group?

I'm from a cohousing group in Australia, so I cannot comment on people or
prices, but our group did organise a consensus training workshop to improve
our decision-making process.

I think the best way to learn to use consensus is to find out as much about
it as you can and then DO it. You may do it "wrong", it may take a long
time, it may be messy, but the more you do it the better at it you get. At
times I think it becomes obvious that your group has progressed as far as
it can with the information available in the members, and it is when you
reach this sort of plateau that it would be useful to get outside help and
training. This is IMHO, from someone with bits and pieces of experience
from working in different co-operatives over the last 13 years.

In our situation, the group had made a difficult decision in a way that we
weren't happy with. We decided we needed help and more training to make
those kinds of decisions in a better way in the future. As it turned out,
the workshop we got was not the workshop we asked for - it was more about
figuring out our common values and bonding as a group than it was about
learning the skills needed to make difficult decisions. So we would not
used the same person in the future, but it does not mean the workshop was a
waste of time. We DID bond together a lot as a group, we DID learn a few
things about decision making and we DID learn what it was that we really
needed to know.

I suppose what I'm trying to get at is that you shouldn't hold back
practising consensus just because you haven't been "trained" and you
shouldn't worry too much about getting EXACTLY the right person to train
you. Of course it does help if you get a great and experienced teacher, but
chances are you will learn a lot no matter what you do. And, if you're
group will be together for the long haul, there will always be
opportunities in the future to learn the things you didn't learn in the
first workshop. You can't learn everything in a weekend anyway!

Oh well, that's my two-cents worth, from a relative newcomer to the
consensus workshop scene.

Hope it goes well!

Mona Loofs
Hobart Tasmania Australia

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