Re: Consensus requirements
From: Tree Bressen (
Date: Wed, 7 May 2003 23:29:01 -0600 (MDT)

Rob S. wrote:

>Robert Heinich asked me what the requirements for consensus to work well and
>safely. Here is my list of 7. Your mileage will probably vary....
>1. People are willing to express what they think and feel without fear of
>2. Participants agree that the good of the group is the most important
>3. There at least one well trained facilitator to guide the group, or the
>entire group is well
>trained enough to guide itself.
>4. The participants trust, or are willing to trust in the future, the group.
>5. The participants can rely on the group to hold their personal interests
>6. The process is evaluated regularly so participants learn and improve
>their skills
>7. The participants are willing to invest the time it takes.

Here's the list i've been using, which i usually frame as "things that help
consensus work well" rather than "requirements."  I choose that framing
because i've seen almost every supposed rule about consensus successfully
broken on some occasion.  On the other hand, if a group tries to operate
with none of these in place, i'd say it won't work.

1. Common purpose
2. Listening
3. Openness to ideas, feelings, and experiences of others
4. Trust, to at least some degree (as Rob's #4 above) 
5. Willingness to let go of some of your personal attachments in the best
interest of the group (similar to Rob's #2)
6. Focus on issues, rather than personalities--common ownership of ideas
(focus on interests rather than positions, and find the reasons behind the
7. Value feelings--it tells you where the energy is tied up
8. Commitment
9. Time

I agree with Rob, "Your mileage may vary."  If y'all have additions to
these lists based on your experience i'd be interested to hear them.  




Tree Bressen
1680 Walnut St.
Eugene, OR 97403
(541) 484-1156
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