Re: Consensus [Was new article on blocking]
From: Eris Weaver (
Date: Wed, 21 Jan 2004 11:09:24 -0700 (MST)
Sharon Villines wrote:
> The problem with strawpolls and "blocking" is that they muddy up the
> concept and process of getting to consensus...
> Strawpolls and temperature checks are continued tyranny of the
> majority. Even if they are not binding, the thought process behind them
> is to focus on the majority and record the fact that MOST of agree to
> this proposal. Only you, or a few of you, disagree and NOW we know who
> you are.

I suppose that stawpolls could be used in this way. As a facilitator,
though, I sometimes find them useful. If we are trying to decide how to
proceed on an issue, taking the temperature of the group in this way can
help us figure out where we need to go next to craft a solution that will
work. If the strawpoll shows us that most of the group supports a
particular course of action and just a few don't, we can work more closely
with the smaller group to find out what their objections are and how the
proposal can be crafted to address them. If, instead, the group is fairly
evenly split on an issue, there is obviously a whole lot of re-thinking
that needs to go on.

Another thing that we often through into straw polls is not just "who
thinks we should do A" and "who thinks we should do B" is to add "who
doesn't really have a strong opinion either way."  Many times a majority
of people either don't have a strong opinion or don't feel they have the
expertise to develop one; then we may work with just the smaller group who
are passionate to develop a proposal further.

There are members of our group who put what I think is TOO much faith in
the usefulness of strawpolls.

Eris Weaver                       erisw [at]
Cotati Cohousing
Cotati, CA

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