Conflict Resolution
From: mbishop (mbishopasf.com)
Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 18:29:03 -0600
Thank you very much for the continued input on this thread.
I have been listening carefully and reading about formal consensus.  I have
moved further down the road of enlightenment so my questions have shifted.
First, I will attempt to concisely summerize what I have learned or at
least what my newly formed opinions are, then I have another quesiton for
you.

1.   I am just about convinced that  consensus and majority vote are
fundamentally incompatible and a formal process to fall back to a majority
vote on a proposal is not in the best interest of the group.
2.   No formal consensus process can improve on strong commitment, right
skill, right attitude and commonality of principals of the individuals to
consensus in the group.
3.   Blocking consensus is blocking consensus but it is not a dirty word,
evil, or a bad thing.  Conflict needs to be encouraged.
4.   People have and will attempt to use the consensus proces for reasons
counter to the interest of the group as a whole.  It is in the interest of
the group to have a formal group process that is invulnerable to this
abuse.
5.   A successful consensus processes requires, at minimum, a skilled
facilitator. And preferably, most people in the group need to be skilled at
facilitation and understand the intent and philosophy behind the consensus
process.  (I believe training process for new members is required or highly
recommended. After a group jump start with formal training, I think a
training plan based on a buddy system sounds like the right way to go. What
do you think?)
6.   A Parliamentary process or majority vote process is counter to
building community.  The focus is on the vote.  Consensus is symbiotic to
building community.  The focus is on the interest of the individuals as a
member of a group.  This is the same focus for building and maintaining
community.
7.   In consensus, it is the responsibility of the individual to raise
concerns.  It is the responsibility of the group to resolve those concerns.
It is the responsibility of the individual to either consent, step aside to
allow consensus, or block consensus based on group principals and values.
It is the responsibility of the group to decide on the legitimacy of the
blocked consensus.
8.   If the group thinks that the reason for the blocked consensus is based
on the principals of the group, then consensus is blocked.  Period.
Perhaps the principals and values of the group need to be re-evaluated or
further clarified.  On the other hand, if a majority of the group think
that the reason for blocking consensus is not based on group principals,
then the individual non-consent is not recognized as blocking consensus.
9.   Particularly for us that are less skilled in communication (and
perhaps less self awareness), the real issue behind blocked consensus is
often not the initial issue stated.  It takes some time, caring, and
technique to get to the real issue.  A formal consensus process needs to
allow, promote, and encourage an environment for the real issues to come to
the surface.

With this new knowledge in my head, I am now pondering on this proposal:
If consensus is felt to be blocked by an individual or a minority, any
member can call the group to proceed to a vote. However, the vote is not on
the adoption of the proposal blocked.  Instead, the vote is on whether the
blocked consensus is legitimate.  Calling to proceed to a vote means the
following:
?    At least one meeting is held with the only agenda of determining the
real concerns behind the blocked consensus and the legitimacy of those
concerns.  It is not the intent of the meeting to persuade the minority to
the majority view.  A skilled unbiased facilitator is recommended.
?    With this new knowledge, at least one meeting is held with the only
agenda of discussing and deciding on the proposal.
?    If consensus is still blocked (with the same block), a meeting is held
to decide on the legitimacy of the blocked consensus.  This is done with an
outside facilitator.   At the end of the meeting the members vote where
more than 25% for legitimacy blocks the proposal. Otherwise, the concern is
not legitimate and does not block consensus of the group.

What are the guidelines for legitimacy needs further thought.

Please poke at this. Thanks.


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