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

  1. making a proposal
  2. having a discussion
  3. 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!

facilitation tool about consensus by drawing change and rhizome network UK

facilitation tool about consensus by drawing change and rhizome network UK

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. 

  • rounds
  • pair and share
  • spectrogram
  • 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:

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