In this lesson, we will consider the value of consensus building, and the elements that contribute to building consensus.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines consensus as a general agreement or the judgment arrived at by most of those concerned.1
Sometimes consensus building is a process used in conflict resolution (see here). However, it is also a process used as we saw in the video: as an alternative to common decision-making practices, and as a way to generate widespread levels of participation and agreement (see here).
Consensus is not the same as unanimous agreement. Consensus is making an agreement for a purpose, even if individuals involved in the process may not agree with every detail. The benefits of consensus building include:
- gathering the experiences from the whole group
- building relationships between people
- moving toward doing what is best for the common interest
- agreements needing less enforcement2
This resource provides several frameworks for facilitated conversations. Some of the benefits of decisions made using a consensus model include:
- helping you to understand the full complexity of a decision, and spot issues and opportunities which you might otherwise not notice
- carrying out an analysis that helps to plan and strengthen the forces supporting a decision, and reduce the impact of opposition to it
- sorting through lots of information from a variety of sources and organizing the information in a way that makes sense and helps you make decisions
- looking at the internal aspects of your team or organization to make sure that they are aligned
How would you explain the value of consensus building to an IEHP who comes from a culture where decisions are not made that way?