Decision-making in coalitions
What it is:
- a process for people who want to work together honestly in good faith to find good solutions for the group.
- allows everyone in the group to participate co-operatively.
- gives people power to make decisions, and demands that they take responsibility for those decisions.
- allows members to explore the complete range of options and concerns in a non-adversarial manner.
- involves problem-solving, questioning, and examining conflicts.
- a process where ideas are challenged but people are listened to and supported.
- requires skill and a focus on the good of the whole.
- can require sacrifice of ideas for a common outcome, final decision may not be the first preference of anyone in the group.
- can be a stage of a good voting process.
What it isn’t:
- consensus in not necessarily unanimity, does not mean waiting until everyone agrees with one member or a group of members.
- is not a process whereby a member or group refuses to move and holds the whole group up.
- does not need to take excessive amounts of time, especially where the group members have experience with and some trust of each other.
The Flow of a Co-operative Decision-Making Process
- issue raised, what is the problem?
- clarify problem, put it in context.
- discuss, bring out a diversity of ideas, concerns and perspectives, look at possible solutions.
- encourage heartfelt dissent and challenge.
- note agreements and disagreements and the underlying reasons for them, discuss the underlying reasons.
- synthesize proposed ideas/solutions and come up with totally new ideas in a supportive atmosphere.
- evaluate the different ideas until one seems right for the group.
- establish how the idea will be implemented.
- make sure there are no loose ends.
- restate the decision, including the implementation, for the note taker.
Adapted from Randy Schutt, “A Checklist for the Consensus Process”, “Consensus is not Unanimity”, Cleveland, Ohio.