Supporting Group Decision Making – Consensus Skills
Why strengthen your consensus skills? Better communication! Especially when you want more of a win-win.
Here are some of my favourite consensus resources:
– when consensus works
– when it doesn’t
– how to use a gradient of agreement to gather information instead of yes/no/abstain voting
– options for disagreement.
Plus, here’s my favourite meeting tip: when you’re writing an agenda, determine if you’re
- making a proposal
- having a discussion
- or making a decision
Participatory decision making skills take more time. But even moving to a question like “who likes this proposal — out of five?” is a great start. It can change the way people give feedback or answers.
And online, holding up (or typing) one to five fingers to the screen for a quick visual check in is easy.
It’s not a vote, but it quickly gathers data to show where a group is at. Also highly useful for deciding what to watch on Netflix!
I facilitated a co-housing group that was just starting up, to help them strengthen their consensus skills. Here’s some of the consensus strengthening tools that we tried out in a full day meeting.
- pair and share
- setting group guidelines together
- dot voting
- small group work
- marshmellow game and debrief
- visualizations / silent reflection
- working with gradients of agreement
- the process for consensus – 7 steps, done with masking tape on the floor so people could stand on the different parts
- Four Corners exercise about roles we each like to play in groups, by Craig Freshley
- Our outcomes by the end of the day included:
List of shared values – with some prioritization; draft dreams of the co-housing, and a better understanding of what the group needs to have good communication together.
I couldn’t have written this workshop without the amazing online library of Tree Bressen: https://treegroup.info/.