Let’s discuss consensus decision making

I’d like to talk about consensus decision making. I will use text from a book called Do it yourself; A handbook for changing our world, by the Trapese collective, as it is very pragmatic, in my opinion.

Please feel free to make comments. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, make challenges, but keep in mind that we always aim to reach consensus. 🙂

I think it will be best if we do it step by step, discuss what we have learned so far and then when we are all happy, move to the next bit?

What is consensus decision making?


Consensus is a decision-making process that works creatively to include all the people making the decision. Instead of simply voting for an item, and letting the majority of the group get their way, the group is committed to finding solutions that everyone can live with. This ensures that everyone’s opinions, ideas and reservations are taken into account. But consensus is more than just a compromise. It is a process that can result in surprising and creative solutions – often better than the original suggestions. At the heart of consensus is a respectful dialogue between equals, helping groups to work together to meet both the individuals’ and the group’s needs. It’s about how to work with each other rather than “for” or “against” each other.

Making decisions by consensus is based on trust and openness – this means
learning to openly express both our desires (what we’d like to see happening), and our needs (what we have to see happen in order to be able to support a decision). If everyone is able to trust each other and talk openly, then the group will have the information it requires to take everyone’s positions into account and to come up with a solution that everyone can support.

It may take time to learn how to distinguish between our desires and needs: after all most of us are more used to decision making where one wins and the other loses. In this kind of adversarial decision making we are often forced to take up a strategic position of presenting our desires as needs.

A good diagram from Seeds for Change:

seeds for change model