RE: Consensus [Was new article on blocking]
From: TR Ruddick (
Date: Wed, 21 Jan 2004 21:03:39 -0700 (MST)
> From: "Mary English" <Mary.English [at]>
> Subject: [C-L]_ Re: Consensus
> Sharon, 
>   Thank you for a well written informative email on consensus.  More than
once, I have wished to comment on what I saw 
> happening in a consensus process, and could not find a way to describe my
concern or objection about the way it was 
> being carried forward.  You write with great clarity about it.

I agree.  When people talk about "blocking consensus" as if it's something
wrong, I suspect we have assemblies that are deeply entrenched in
"groupthink"--the potentially fatal notion that the group has to agree on
everything and any individual who doesn't is a dangerous deviant.

Symptoms of groupthink include: making big, costly decisions rapidly, but
spending hours picking through the details; intolerance for minority
opinion; the kinds of "why, then, are you here" comments that Mary noted.

Overall, there are lots of people who promote one decision-making process
over another.  Research shows that groups that structure their
decision-making come up with better decisions.  However, provided that the
process works via consensus or some other method of acknowledging the
rights of the minority, there doesn't seem to be one way of structuring the
process that works best in all situations.  Individual group
characteristics need to be considered.

Also, the most important group factor in decision-making quality is the
quality of knowledge in the group, and whether it's recognized and valued.

Reading Tree's article, I found myself imagining a group making a decision
about HVAC in the common house and ignoring the objections of one member
whose "block" was not supported by anyone, despite the fact that she's a
certified HVAC technician.  It sounds ridiculous until you think about
groups you were in where personality conflicts were permitted to rule over
expertise (pause now to reflect on the current White House inner circle).


Cohousing-L mailing list
Cohousing-L [at]  Unsubscribe  and other info:

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.