Re: Groupthink
From: Norm Gauss (
Date: Fri, 16 Jul 2004 12:55:00 -0700 (PDT)

> Rather, in my comm'ty, these [process] activities are designed to help
> people from the hectic pace of their lives into a focus on what we are
doing in THIS > place at THIS time. It's also intended to help people relax
a bit, and to feel
> connected to one another.

      A short process is OK (reading a poem, singing a song), but in a
meeting with 30+ people where each person makes a statement on their
emotional status, sometimes this can last over 30 minutes and put people to

>Actually, my understanding of consensus is that we are not debating so much
>using our intelligence and our perspective to identify potential concerns
on behalf of >the comm'ty.
> So -- in my opinion -- consensus is not just about reaching agreement, but
> about being thoughtful and intelligent and taking the time to sort it
> through to the best of our ability, with the best thinking we can summon
> the time.

       Consensus is the result of deciding on an issue, not the process by
which it is achieved.  Consensus is indeed about reaching agreement.  Being
thoughtful and intelligent and taking time to sort it through is preliminary
to consensing.

> You use the term "debate," and of course debate means different things to
> different people. To me, it casts people into the position of trying to
> persuade or convert others to their thinking. It implies black and white
> thinking, a right and a wrong.

     Debate is often used in political contexts where opposing candidates or
opposing camps are trying to persuade an electorate to vote their candidate
or platform.  In high-school debate, there are no opposing candidates or
groups.  Each participant takes a position on a resolution (proposal) and
tries to present arguments to support his position.  If the original
resolution has defects, then maybe the arguments against it will focus on
its defects rather than what has been proposed.  It is this kind of dynamic
which is useful whenever a proposal is under consideration by the whole

> Blocking consensus is a gift to the comm'ty, but only when done from the
position of
> the deepest belief that to move forward with the proposal "harms the
> comm'ty." " Not "I disagree" or "I don't like this" or "I have strong
> reservations" but "I believe harm will come to the comm'ty if this
> moves forward."
   I have personally blocked consensus on original proposals in the last two
months.  In both cases, I felt that to move forward with the proposal as it
was presented would be detrimental to the community.  I have not blocked,
and I never intend to block, any proposal just for personal reasons.  In one
case, not enough information had been given to enable me to make a confident
decision (when the information later came through I released my block).  In
another case, I felt that the original proposal was a waste of money and
that, after changes were made to the proposal, I lifted my block.

   Consensus was reached, but the process by which it was reached involved
debate and consideration of the pros and cons.

Norm Gauss
Oak Creek Commons
Paso Robles, CA

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