Summary of the Consensus Process

Taken from ‘Introduction to Consensus’ by Beatrice Briggs

Definition: Consensus is a decision-making process which strives for non-violent resolution of conflicts and the cooperative development of decisions that everyone can support. In order for consensus process to work, five essential elements must be in place:

  1. A willingness to share power;
  2. Informed commitment to the consensus process;
  3. A common purpose;
  4. Strong agendas;
  5. Effective facilitation.

Core belief: each person has an important piece of the truth.

Values: trust, cooperation, non-violence, goodwill, truthfulness, diversity, inclusivity, shared responsibility for the group’s action.

Skills: patience, disciplined speaking and listening, active participation, creativity, willingness to experiment, problem solving.

Three Stages in the Decision-Making Process

Introduction Discussion Decision
Essential Roles Optional Roles
    Scribe(s)/chart writer(s)
    Minute Taker
    Set-up/clean-up crew
    Agenda Planner
    Vibe(s) watcher(s)/Process observer(s)
    Sponsors of agenda planner
    Peace keeper(s)

Procedure: in consensus process, no votes are taken. Ideas or proposals are introduced, discussed, and revised as necessary, before reaching the point of decision. No significant issue may be introduced, discussed and decided in one meeting. If consensus is not reached, no action is taken. The intention is to non-violently resolve all concerns and conflicts surrounding a proposal so that everyone can support the decision.

In making a decision, a participant in a consensus group has three options:

To block (with solid justification and/or alternative suggestions)

To stand aside

To give consent