Compare the values of consensus to those that dominate the world in which we live. The Western system of representative voting presents itself as the highest form of democracy. But it is precisely in the nations that shout the loudest about the virtues of democracy that many people no longer even bother to vote; Whoever they choose, decisions are made by an elite of powerful politicians and businessmen whose interests are totally different from those they are supposed to represent. And not only do these politicians legislate for us without consulting us — they have the support of the police, the prison system and the military to make sure we respect their laws. Electing 20 times in life for an MP or other political representatives is a bad substitute for us ourselves having the power to make decisions that affect every aspect of our lives. Each group sends a delegate (or «spokesperson») to the Spokespersons` Council meeting, where all delegates present the range of ideas and concerns of their political groups. The spokespersons then propose proposals which they believe are acceptable to all and refer them to political groups for further discussions and amendments. This process is repeated until an agreement is reached. Decision-making power remains the responsibility of all members. Active participation: by consensus, we must all actively participate. We need to listen to what everyone has to say, express our thoughts and feelings on this issue and proactively seek solutions that involve everyone. Implementing consensual decisions is not always easy! It takes time to unlearn the behaviours we have educated, to accept them as a norm, like «winning» competition for an argument. Perhaps the most important thing is to take the time to think about how your consensus process is going, to give feedback on each other and to constantly look for ways to improve.
The seven levels to reach consensus are the same as for small groups, but the techniques you use for each level may be different. Some phases can happen with everyone, but if possible, use small groups to allow for in-depth discussion and participation. Below we give an introduction to some instruments that may work well to facilitate consensus in large groups. A combination of processes is usually necessary for group consensus to be fluid and successful. You may simply not be the best at making a good decision together, for example because trust is low, or you simply don`t have enough information to make the decision. In this case, try to resign from the concrete decision you want to make and spend more time creating the conditions for consensus or solving the practical problems that will be yours. It could be as simple as explaining the consensus to everyone during the meeting or sending someone to do a little more research and later reverse the decision. At other times, it will take more work — z.B one for one, a group of facilitated meetings and some social time together to build trust and open communication before making big decisions together. Discover the ideas that people have developed in detail.
It`s usually not a process of selecting any of the ideas to be taken forward — the final decision may contain elements of the different proposals, or something quite new! However, evaluating concrete ideas will allow you to learn more about key concerns and differences of opinion. Many people find it difficult to identify their needs or notice the assumptions they make in an abstract discussion — but we`ll be more likely to notice that someone has an idea that we don`t like! So it`s important to know why people like an idea or not. A simple technique is explained below. Could the whole group decide on general guidelines or agreements and could a small group elaborate on the details? For example, could the whole cooperation agree on ethical purchasing policies