Re: Re: Consensus
From: Sharon Villines (sharonsharonvillines.com)
Date: Wed, 21 Jan 2004 17:28:54 -0700 (MST)

On Jan 21, 2004, at 5:08 PM, Mary English wrote:

Equally frustrating is: the group consensing on something in one meeting, and assigning a budget at that time; the committee (composed of anyone who was interested in the project, or had concerns about it) doing all the work of researching, getting bids, winowing them down; three months later bringing back the proposed specs and contract to the entire community for any final imput or desired changes; then someone (who had not joined the committee nor had never given any input to the committee) saying "no, I don't like this. I'm blocking this now." And I can think of at least three times this has happened here. I find consensus the most difficult part of cohousing, in both emotional cost and in cost of time involved in the process.

(Thank you for the confirming comments on the ways sweet smiling people totally tyrannize groups! I'm with you on those 100%)

On this last issue, the problem is not consensus so much as lack of communication and recording decisions. If the agenda was clear that a decision was going to be made, the minutes were clear that a decision was made, and the committee kept in touch with the membership on their findings, this guy is out of order. The committee may not have been keeping communications open. From decision to contract is a big step. I just did this on acoustical panels and we had mucho input opportunities on style, placement, exact color of white, etc. over the course of a year.

We also have person who always has better ideas four months late and we have had to learn to deal with him. What we have done is give him a time frame to come up with a better decision. He does nothing and we proceed. With this technique in place he is doing this less and less often. The problem is that sometimes team members will listen to him without evaluating his arguments -- and without requiring him to "put up the goods." It doesn't help that he is too busy to read email and doesn't listen to his answering machine and isn't home much!!!!!!

But in some instances, it was not clear that a decision was being made. There were no clear minutes or the committee did not report back in three months on what was happening. Three months is a lot of time. Things do change. Clarity is important as well.

I guess I would say consensus is less of a problem than people. If we could just reach consensus without any people involved, it would be so easy! (Joke)

Sharon
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Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC
http://www.takomavillage.org

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