Re: Consensus and time pressure
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Tue, 9 Mar 2004 09:15:42 -0700 (MST)
On 3/6/04 12:13 PM, "Becky Schaller" <beckys [at]> wrote:

> sometimes when we skip over this
> first step, we then have trouble even thinking of how to incorporate
> everyone's needs and concerns.

If they are so complex, you probably need to separate the issues. There are
too many different areas being affected or too many needs and concerns are
being attached to one issue.
> Unfortunately, what happens is we skip over that time of creative
> problem solving which I believe is so essential to the consensus
> process.   

But creativity can only happen with some understanding of the issue. People
only get creative when they are primed with information. You can't ask a
four year old to be creative about investing the reserves (although my six
year old did once did suggest MacDonalds). For many issues related to real
estate development and property management, we are all four year olds! Go
for MacDonalds!

> Understandably, people want to move on.  So we hold up
> the cards, and most people are happy with the decision and a few people
> feel like they've been worn out and leave with perhaps a few emotional
> bruises. Who the unhappy people are changes from time to time and I actually
> think everyone is happy with most decisions.

The interesting thing to me is that the majority will be happy with ANY
decision. I think that is why the powers that be created majority decisions
-- they knew they could run things however they wished if they only had to
rely on the support of the majority. It is the dissenters who may be
actually thinking about the issue and considering options. It is the
dissenters who may also have the best solutions and most helpful concerns.

> But as time progresses,
> more and more people have memories of feeling worn out and bruised for
> wanting the community to try to address some less popular concerns in
> the final proposal.

I think this is a real problem and people use it to avoid consensus decision
making rather than approaching consensus decisions better. I'm usually
surprised at how little attention other people pay to issues I think are
deadly important and I'm sure the reverse is true.

Consensus decision making means everyone who participates in the decision
needs to be up to speed -- they have to be educated and the facts have to be
clear. If they are not willing to read and discuss before the meeting, it is
pretty much hopeless. If I have not read and participated in early
discussions, I would not give or withhold consent.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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