Consensus is...

...not unanimity – it is not the idea that we all agree - that is impossible. It is a process for deciding what is best for a group. The final decision is usually not the first preference of any individual in the group, and as with any decision making structure many may not even like the final result. But it is a decision to which they all consent because they know it is the best one for the group and all views and possible solutions have been heard.

...both sides of democracy - It gives people the power to make decisions but also demands that they take responsibility for those decisions. This means that consensus can be difficult as it can not simply rely on management to resolve, for example, difficult personnel issues.

...a willingness to co-operate – The nature of consensus is that it can be destroyed by an individual, (whether you acknowledge the use of “the block“ (or veto) or not) by refusal to cooperate, coercive methods or withdrawal from the decision (reducing the validity of the agreement). It is about actively seeking ways to tackle any issues you may have with any proposal, adding addendum's or seeking compromise solutions.

...not necessary for most decisions – in a group that trusts each other most small decisions can be made by individuals or small groups. The conditions for this are that the decision makers are always accountable for their decisions before the group and that they are honest about decisions that may be more controversial (even if they don't believe they should be) and bring these to the group.

...not always easy – it is about recognising conflict rather than covering it up and taking steps to resolve that conflict, even if it might seem easier not to.

...not natural, it is a skill – most of us are trained (by life) in conflictive politics, where you try to strengthen your own position and weaken that of your opponent, this is how current society is run on a winner takes all basis (where we suffer all the weaknesses of the winning position and none of the strengths of the losing). Each member of our group needs to develop their skills in listening to others, looking for the strengths in others arguments rather than just their weaknesses. We need to all agree to learn about consensus and practice and develop our skills.

...about honesty – talking about our expectations of the project and of each other, especially when those expectations are not being met. Challenging each other's daft ideas.

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