Topics: Decision theory, Decision making, Consensus decision-making Pages: 5 (1686 words) Published: March 22, 2013
Consensus decision-making is a group decision making process that seeks the consent of all participants. Consensus may be defined professionally as an acceptable resolution, one that can be supported, even if not the "favourite" of each individual. Consensus is defined by Merriam-Webster as, first, general agreement, and second, group solidarity of belief or sentiment. It has its origin in the Latin word cōnsēnsus (agreement), which is from cōnsentiō meaning literally feel together.[1] It is used to describe both the decision and the process of reaching a decision. Consensus decision-making is thus concerned with the process of deliberating and finalizing a decision, and the social and political effects of using this process. Consensus decision making is an alternative to commonly practiced adversarial decision making processes.[5] Robert's Rules of Order, for instance, is a process used by many organizations. The goal of Robert’s Rules is to structure the debate and passage of proposals that win approval through majority vote. This process does not emphasize the goal of full agreement. Critics of Robert’s Rules believe that the process can involve adversarial debate and the formation of competing factions. These dynamics may harm group member relationships and undermine the ability of a group to cooperatively implement a contentious decision. Consensus decision making is also an alternative to “top-down” decision making, commonly practiced in hierarchical groups. Top-down decision making occurs when leaders of a group make decisions in a way that does not include the participation of all interested stakeholders. The leaders may (or may not) gather input, but they do not open the deliberation process to the whole group. Proposals are not collaboratively developed, and full agreement is not a primary objective. Critics of top-down decision making believe the process fosters incidence of either complacency or rebellion among disempowered group members. Additionally, the resulting decisions may overlook important concerns of those directly affected. Poor group relationship dynamics and decision implementation problems may result. Consensus decision making attempts to address the problems of both Robert’s Rules of Order and top-down models. Proponents claim that outcomes of the consensus process include:[3] * Better Decisions: Through including the input of all stakeholders the resulting proposals may better address all potential concerns. * Better Implementation: A process that includes and respects all parties, and generates as much agreement as possible sets the stage for greater cooperation in implementing the resulting decisions. Better Group Relationships: A cooperative, collaborative group atmosphere can foster greaConsensus Process There are multiple stepwise models of how to make decisions by consensus. They vary in the amount of detail the steps describe. They also vary depending on how decisions are finalized. The basic model involves * collaboratively generating a proposal,

* identifying unsatisfied concerns, and then
* modifying the proposal to generate as much agreement as possible. After a concerted attempt at generating full agreement, the group can then apply its final decision rule to determine if the existing level of agreement is sufficient to finalize a decision. [edit] Specific models

[edit] Consensus decision-making with consensus blocking

Flowchart of basic consensus decision-making process.
Groups that require unanimity commonly use a core set of procedures depicted in this flow chart.[23][24][25] Once an agenda for discussion has been set and, optionally, the ground rules for the meeting have been agreed upon, each item of the agenda is addressed in turn. Typically, each decision arising from an agenda item follows through a simple structure: * Discussion of the item: The item is discussed with the goal of identifying opinions and information on the topic at hand. The general...
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