|Process and task and Consensus||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Rob Sandelin (Exchange) (RobsanExchange.MICROSOFT.com)|
|Date: Mon, 22 Jul 1996 11:12:49 -0500|
Imagine a goose which has one wing much larger than the other. The poor bird strugglges mightly to fly, but everytime it gets into the air, all it does is go around in circles, and it take huge effort to go in a straight line. Process and task are equal wings of a successful group process, both wings must be pretty equal for the group to fly with maximum success in the straightest line towareds the goal. If the task wing is out of balance, then you go in one in direction for awhile but then people leave in disgust because you care more about expedency than doing things right or fairly. If the process wing is out of balance, you go around in circles because there is no one to do any of the tasks. When both wings are in balance, there is maximum energy to task because people feel good about there role in the group and that the group is worth working for. The group moves at maximum speed towards its goal. Going back to the goose metaphor again, ever watch a flock of geese? They fly in a V formation, with one goose in the lead, with several geese honking encouragement to the leader and to each other. The V formation is the most energy efficient, with the lead goose breaking wind and all the gesse behind getting lift from the first goose, with the last goose in the line doing the least work. If you watch long enough you will see that the lead goose, which is doing the most amount of work in the flock, slips back and another goose takes its place. Leadership is key to successful group process, and allowing everyone to hold leadership at one time or another keeps everyone fresh. Any group that finds consensus leads to the least objectionable result, and not the most excellent result, is not using consensus very well. In my experience, consensus creates much BETTER solutions, is a very exciting and creative process, and gives the best results possible, often with solutions that are far better than any one person could have ever come up with. But to make it work you have to have good to excellent facilitation, and everyone has to have the same level of training about what consensus is and how to use it. A well run consensus process is NOT a bunch of people all trying to get their way and lobbying others that their opinion is the right one. In my experience a well run consensus process maximizes the idea base, considers all ideas equally, filters and prioritizes the ideas until the very best one is acheived. WHen you get to the very best solution, everyone knows it, there is a huge group, AHA! the heads all nod, smiles go up, and you move to the next one. There are four elements for successful consensus, and the most important one, is that everyone has to be commited that the best intersests of the group outweighs their own self interest. I rarely see this in cohousing groups. And self interest is what drags groups down into mediocarity. In observing 15 cohousing groups working their process I found most cohousing groups use consensus extremely poorly, and this handicaps them a great deal. In many cases it would be better for these groups just to go with a 2/3rds majority vote and accept the fallout which will occur anyway. Cohousing is egalitarian group endeavor, and unfortunately few people have the experience or training in successful group endeavors in our society. Everybody has an equal say. So you get a room full of people together with little or no experience in being part of an egalitarian group, and then you try and take on huge group tasks and decision making. What happens is that some people who are completely clueless demand silly things and then lots of time gets spent educating them that what they want in their ignornace is not possible, meanwhile the rest of the group is stuck waiting for the least knowagable to catch up with the rest of them. Add to that mix typical male egos (Who me? Wrong? You must be mistaken), poorly developed communication skills, lack of facilitation to keep things on track, poor understanding of group dynamcis, and No wonder people are frustrated, and no wonder so many forming groups give up. This is especially true of the contractor/developer types. They are used to giving orders and taking responsibility, not used to asking people for their opinions. Egalitarian group process is a learned skill you need in order to function as a group. You can learn the basics in a weekend workshop and this will save you lots of time and frustrations and maybe even save your project. Rob Sandelin Sharingwood a place where after 6 years of intensive work, we have finally figured out some of the basics.
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