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An interesting consensus-bulding exercise

 
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tomatlee



Joined: 06 Jul 2004
Posts: 14
Location: Eugene, OR

PostPosted: Thu Jul 08, 2004 10:28 am    Post subject: An interesting consensus-bulding exercise Reply with quote

I heard of an interesting consensus-building method that goes something like this:

At the beginning of a meeting you have everyone write down (a) the best outcomes they can imagine for that gathering; (b) any really bad outcomes they could imagine happening from that gathering; and (c) what behaviors they think would make the difference between the good and bad outcomes. They do this individually. Then you have everyone post their thoughts on a wall and take a break for everyone to look over what everyone else has written.

That's it. There is no discussion of the items, no effort to come to agreements about "dialogue guidelines", no plenary dealing with the issue at all. The meeting just proceeds, with everyone aware of what everyone thinks about these questions.

I heard of this about three years ago. I don't know its source. I haven't used it. I imagine it would be very effective. Any thoughts about it? Any experiences with it? Do you know the source of this?
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Tom Atlee, The Co-Intelligence Institute
co-intelligence.org, taoofdemocracy.com
The Tao of Democracy
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Rex Barger



Joined: 19 Aug 2004
Posts: 12
Location: Hamilton, Ontario

PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2004 7:50 am    Post subject: A new look at consensus-building Reply with quote

Tom, That consensus-building exercise is indeed interesting & thought-provoking! Have you (or anyone) tried it yet in deed?
Here are some thoughts it provoked: Any consensus-building has to start with individuals with ideas about desirable group behavior. But since we all need to be self-directed, such ideas must be presented to a group (that might want to act on them) in order to find out whether all the individuals in the group see it as a desirable action.
This exercise makes at least some thinking occur. but we should never wait until we are asked to think; in an ideal world, we should all be doing that kind of thinking all the time and making efforts toward consensus all the time.
Making efforts toward consensus should never wait until a 'large enough' group has been gathered. [Who can tell, in advance, when a group is large enough? Don't we always have to wait&see?] When we have ideas for group action, I believe, we should make efforts toward consensus at every opportunity, even with only one other person.
[to be continued]
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Rex Barger



Joined: 19 Aug 2004
Posts: 12
Location: Hamilton, Ontario

PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2004 12:21 pm    Post subject: A new look at consensus-building (continued) Reply with quote

I see 'making efforts toward consensus' as essentially a process of refining our understandings of reality. If refining our mental models of reality is what happens when we 'make efforts toward consensus', then the actual reaching of consensus becomes much less important: the world will already be a better place. I say this because I believe that, when our mental models of reality are more in haromony with real reality, all our actions will tend to harmonize more completely.
In the Quaker tradition, we have a process we call 'threshing'. When a (too) large group is having trouble reaching consensus (or 'unity', as some Quakers prefer to call it), the issue is sent to a smaller group for 'threshing'. We try to get rid of as much 'chaff' as possible so that when the issue comes back to the larger group, it will (hopefully) contain only the nutritious 'grain'.
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