Re: Consensus decision making
From: Racheli Gai (
Date: Mon, 11 Aug 2008 07:57:29 -0700 (PDT)

On Aug 11, 2008, at 7:05 AM, Sharon Villines wrote (in part) :

The definition of what is "valid" in "blocking" seems antithetical to
the basis for using consensus as a decision-making process.

I don't understand why you claim that, and in what way working by consensus is even possible if there are no limits on what counts as legitimate grounds for blocking.

How you
get back on track once you begin (1) considering an objection a
"block" and (2) ignoring it.

Obviously not all objections are efforts to block. And I think that in order to have a good consensus process, the community needs to try hard to resolve all objections. If, after such efforts, a person decides to keep objecting (so that no decision can be reached), and they do it without being able to establish that their objection is based on community values (or some other grounds the community sees as legitimate), then the community has a right to decide to move on, overriding the objection.
This isn't at all the same as "ignoring" an objection.

The purpose of consensus decision-making is to ensure continued
commitment to a community. If a group decides that only these
objections or those objections have to be resolved, isn't it limiting
that commitment? Isn't it, in effect, using majority rule decision-

I agree that the community needs to try to resolve all objections. Looking at whether an objection is based on valid/legitimate grounds comes into play only if and when a person is wishing to block (and, presumably, after long and serious efforts to resolve their concerns have failed). I also agree to the (implicit) assumption that efforts to reach consensus can stem from refusal of the group to work seriously and creatively to resolve someone's concern. That's certainly not how things should be done when
the consensus process is done right.
But we had people blocking for what seemed like completely frivolous reasons, without any effort to even establish how letting a certain decision be made will hurt the community or how their blocking is based on anything other than personal
I think that when we talk about "commitment", it needs to be a two-way street, which includes people's commitment to treat the process seriously, not to try to get their way
no matter what.


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