Re: Consensus [was balance] - voting
From: R.N. Johnson (
Date: Sun, 28 Feb 2010 22:23:32 -0800 (PST)
I would think that for many groups, two attempts is not enough time to give up 
on consensus, if the issue really is one that is appropriate for  a whole group 
decision. I worked in an agency that operated under a version of consensus, and 
we had a rule that after 2 tries, the issue had to wait a month, to give it 
time to "season" , for us to think about what was truly important, what the 
underlying interests were, and whether whatever issue it was really mattered. A 
lot of work was done in that time, talking to the key players, running 
potential modifications by dissenters, etc.... It did drag the decision process 
on, but most of the time, there was no real urgency, and if there was, we had a 
voting fallback. New Brighton Cohousing, has occasionally shelved an issue when 
we were not making progress.  On one occasion,
 when it came up again 8 months later, we came to consensus easily. 

I would never suggest consensus for many types of decisions. The whole group 
does not need to approve what type of budgeting system the finance committee is 
using ( as long as it works), who will be hired to repair the broken irrigation 
system, what color to paint the garage,  or what type of cake to serve at the 
next meeting.  The whole group should generally avoid the details,  and focus 
on the broad picture, and the values you share.  Laird Schaub has a great 
website that gives great suggestions on how to  separate out full group versus 
committee decisions and resolve many consensus issues-, 

Good luck with your consensus journey.

Randa Johnson

New Brighton Cohousing

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