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The Consensus Model

We get asked all the time, “How do people make decisions with their neighbours? How do I know my opinions will be heard?”

Community living requires a decision making model that is fair and transparent to everyone.  We chose the Consensus Decision Making model to help us develop a strong, well-functioning community. 

We opted for this model because it is:

  • Agreement seeking:  Tries to generate as much agreement as possible for the entire  group.
  • Collaborative:  Participants create a proposal that considers the concerns of all members
  • Cooperative:  Participants often set aside personal preferences in deciding what’s best for the community
  • Egalitarian:  Members have equal input into the process and to present and amend proposals
  • Inclusive:  Members consider as many stakeholders as possible to reach a decision

Consensus Decision Making is different from many other group decision making models. For example, using a simple majority vote for decisions, often results in the “losers” in the vote feeling their voices were not heard.

In Consensus Decision Making we consider everyone’s opinion to reach a decision we can all live with. This model often takes more time, but usually results in better decisions, better cooperation, and better group relationships. 

The process itself follows these basic steps:

  • Discussion of the issue with the goal of identifying opinions and information 
  • Formation of a proposal
  • Call for consensus – each member of the group states whether they agree, stand aside, or object
  • Modification of the proposal and another call for consensus
  • Consensus achieved when all concerns addressed
  • Identification of action items to make the proposal a reality