Check for active agreement. In a larger group, assume that everything will take more time, so you'll need to include fewer agenda items. Large meetings can easily be dominated by a few, more confident people, with less assertive or less experienced people finding it difficult to participate. It is worth giving time to developing social relationships and addressing difficult dynamics in order to build trust – especially if you have big decisions to make together. They don't match up exactly, but the reader is bouncing back and forth from the perspective of the mentor and the "mentee" in a rigorous problem solving process. This is not always the case! To generate ideas you could use techniques such as ideastorms or breaking into small groups. Watch out for silence or inaction and check for the reasons – it may be that someone has reservations that they didn't feel able to voice. Bringing in outside help needs to happen when there’s still enough good feeling left for people to co-operate with the process and be willing to accept a different facilitator. This ensures that all opinions, ideas and concerns are taken into account. Consensus groups provide different options to show levels of agreement/disagreement. "What I think you're saying is... Am I right?" This can help other people empathise and understand. Some people resist small group work. For example, a member of a peace group could legitimately block others from taking funding from a weapon's manufacturer. Find ways of gathering everyone's initial reactions and thoughts, rather than just those of a verbal few. Some people find it helpful to take notes as the discussion happens. Unicorn Grocery is a workers' co-operative running a wholefood store in Manchester, UK. Be willing to work towards the solution that’s best for everyone, not just what’s best for you. If significant concerns remain unresolved, a proposal can be blocked and prevented from going ahead. All in all, Managing to Learn does a good job of explaining an interesting and useful management process while also showing how to put it into practice in the real world. And finally, focused tasks like proposal-forming can be more effectively done by a small group. having one to one chats, a whole group facilitated meeting and some social time together to build trust and open communication before making big decisions together. There could be another round of small group discussions, where each group explores all the ideas, or each group could take away just one idea to examine in depth. These feed back to the whole group, which can then compile a list of potential solutions. It's why I have so much respect for Toyota as a company and why I will continue to build on my capabilities as an A3 thinker. Consensus isn’t about us all thinking the same thing. Better alternatives to the current system are already here, growing in the gaps between the paving stones of state authority and corporate control. Refresh and try again. The second example makes it clear what you want, but it also acknowledges that Angus has a choice in the matter too! ", "Angus, I'll feel much more confident we're making the right choice if you can say what you think, does that work for you?". Listening is a skill that is often under-estimated and under-valued. To get your license, keep 3 E's in mind: education, examination and experience. Not all CPE credits are equal. A summary of where you think the group and its different members are at can help everyone focus on finding a solution acceptable to all. Therefore it is very important to give people the chance to correct any biases towards your own perspective! It expresses a fundamental objection. Alternatively, pick solutions based on what you guess to be the underlying issues. Leaving someone out will only cause conflict; we have enough of that in our day-to-day lives without adding undue stress. Make sure everyone can hear each other, e.g. Be creative in your thinking, consensus thrives on mixing up lots of different ideas. We often need to go through conflict in order to reach that understanding. Unless you have a facilitator with supernatural powers, you will probably need several people in a team: someone to look after the discussion, someone to take hands, someone to write up notes on a flipchart, a timekeeper, a doorkeeper and someone to prepare refreshments. Testing for consensus in large groups often requires a quite formal approach to ensure that everyone's position is taken into account. Some people object that placing limitations on the reasons for blocking goes against the principle that every decision should have the consent of everyone involved. We go into more detail in the chapter Options for agreement and disagreement, here's a quick summary: Blocks stop a proposal from going ahead and you'll need to look for a new proposal. The process isn’t always as linear as these models suggest – we may jump ahead and then go back and repeat some stages. This tends to only kick in after a lot of effort has been made to find a solution, e.g. by Lean Enterprises Inst Inc. I will try that in my company soon. However, some members were not at all keen to lose their own weekends. Listening can be particularly hard at moments of conflict. Small groups could, for example, be based on work teams within a business, local groups within a national network or affinity groups within a mass action, or be a random split. However, voting creates winners and losers, which can foster competition and distrust. The person who accommodates may find they never get their needs met; the person who fights their corner may get demonised by the rest of the group as 'argumentative' or 'aggressive'. Rather than everyone being involved in every decision, you could try assigning clearly defined jobs to individual people, for example doing publicity. Pay special attention at the 'testing for consensus' stage. To reassure people it’s important to have a well-functioning feedback process. If all the people involved in making the decisions are together in the same place and the space is big enough, it works well to have groups sitting in a cluster behind their spoke during the spokescouncil. This is then tested in the same way as above. If you think you have too much power, chat to other people in the same situation and see if you can support each other let go of some of that power. Rather than asking 'Are we agreed then?' Can you break complex issues into smaller chunks to tackle one by one? Clearly state the final proposal and check that everyone fully understands what is being proposed. Ask yourself: “Does this idea work for the group, even if I don’t like it the best?” or “Does it really matter which one we choose?”. When we see legislative developments affecting the accounting profession, we speak up with a collective voice and advocate on your behalf. This can happen even if people don't intend it - perhaps they are more confident to voice their views, or the group as a whole is more likely to act on their suggestions. However, if one or more people block the proposal, the blocking persons organize a series of solution-oriented meetings with one or two proposal advocates to create a new proposal that addresses the same issues as the original proposal. In meetings, make sure you're clear about what’s already decided and what is still open to discussion. The spoke needs to act as a voice for everyone within the small group, communicating the breadth of collective thought rather than their own personal point of view. Many of the people struggling for social justice have recognised that changing the way we make decisions is key to achieving equality and freedom. A good friend recommended this book late last year. As well as the question of who is comfortable to speak in front of a large group, there is also an issue of time constraints. This may be personal, cultural or stem from specific anxieties about damaging relationships or 'wasting time'. When meetings run for a long time thrashing out a decision that ‘must be made today’, many people will get tired, leaving only those with the most stamina to be involved in the final decision. It is based on the values of equality, freedom, co-operation and respect for everyone's needs. "How are you feeling about that?" Agree an alternative process for taking a decision that all parties can sign up to. Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. Making sure in advance that you have all the information you need to reach a decision at the meeting. Homeless people occupying empty houses and turning them into collective homes, workers buying out the businesses they work for and running them on equitable terms, gardening groups growing vegetables collectively - once we start looking there are hundreds of examples of co-operative organising that we encounter in our daily lives. It also relies on good communication between working groups/roles and everyone else, e.g. Nobody should be afraid to express their ideas and opinions. Make sure that 'rejected' ideas are not lost entirely - they may come back in when the group draws up a proposal. using questionnaires, focus groups or online discussion forums. You could also run regular consensus workshops for new people as well as refreshers for existing members. Making decisions that are truly consensual requires us to unlearn the beliefs we were taught by an exploitative society, and instead learn more respectful and co-operative behaviours. 1 of The Second Wave, 1972, Working with Conflict, Fisher et al, Zed Books, 2000. Probably the most important thing to do is to take time and reflect on how your consensus process is going, giving each other feedback and constantly looking for ways to improve. Spend your time wisely, and be confident that you're gaining knowledge straight from the source. On a deeper level, set aside time for whatever methods help you move past issues you are stuck on. It also allows people to digest the information before the meeting and work out how they feel about an issue. The key to making it work is for everyone to express their needs and viewpoints clearly, and for the group to use this information to find a solution which builds on the common ground and resolves differences.

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