MUCH is committed to making decisions by consensus, which means looking for an outcome which everyone can live with. This is different to making a decision which the majority favour, leaving a minority of the group feeling that their views have not been heard or respected. It is difficult to do partly because we have each been using the majority system most of our lives in many of the situations in which we collaborate with others.
Consensus means everyone working together to find a solution that is good for the whole group. To do this we need to have conversations together to find solutions which meet our need as a group to achieve our objective and to take account of the views of the individuals which make up the group.
This can take longer than conventional decision-making but the decisions we are making are about the future of our lives so it’s important to make decisions which members can genuinely live with. Members need to explain their own views clearly, to listen to what others are saying, explore options, and understand underlying needs, concerns and emotions. We aim to make decisions which are ‘good enough’ and reach a consensus.
We have undertaken training to make decisions by consensus, and we offer this to all new members. We have a team of facilitators who plan and run the General Meetings where we make our decisions. We often talk or work in small groups both within a General Meeting and outside of it, to enable us to make progress. We continue to talk about how we make decisions as well as about what decisions we have made. We know we’ll never be perfect at consensus decision making, but we are committed to our journey to learn.
MUCH has learnt from training and support from Seeds for Change. For further reading, see seedsforchange.org.uk/shortconsensus