Consensus is a group decision-making process where, ideally, the input of everyone is carefully considered with the goal of crafting an outcome that best meets the needs of the group. It is a process of synthesizing the wisdom of all the participants into the best decision possible at the time. The root of consensus is the word consent, which means “to give permission to.” When you consent to a decision, you give your permission to the group to proceed with the decision. You may, individually, disagree with a decision, but because of everyone else’s input, all group members agree to proceed with that decision. This is based on the shared belief that the decision is the best one that the entire group can achieve at the current time.
Some groups that use a consensus decision making process require that all group members consent to any proposal for it to be adopted by the group. Other groups use the consensus process to maximize agreement, but allow proposals to pass without full unanimity. A super-majority threshold is common. Regardless of the required threshold of agreement, a consensus process values the inclusion of all perspectives in a collaborative effort to generate as much agreement as possible.
- On Conflict and Consensus: A handbook on Formal Consensus Decisionmaking
- Building and maintaining a community
- Consensus Basics, by Tree Bressen (2000)
- Decision Making in Practice: Leadership Decisions and Majority-Rule Democracy, by Rebecca L’Abbe (2000)
- Once More With Feeling: Conflict as an Opportunity for Harnessing Emotional Energy, by Laird Sandhill (2000)
- Consensus minus 3 in Niederkaufungen Summer 2012.
- Consensus Decision-making: A Virtual Learning Center on Consensus– A variety of articles and links on consensus from many points of view.
- Consensus Decision Process in Cohousing
- Tree Bressen’s Group Facilitation Site – includes a great summary: Consensus Points, and an interesting Flowchart – both of which might be useful handouts to a new group
- EcoReality’s formal consensus process, based on Butler’s with changes that made it acceptable to British Columbia for inclusion in incorporation documents, reportedly the first time BC has done so.