So…on the one hand, life would be great if folks could have consensus on all decisions so that everyone was happy.
The problems I see with always seeking consensus is that you risk one of the following:
- Surrounding yourself with particular people who think like you so that you keep getting consensus
- Encouraging groupthink so that even folks who are diverse converge towards the same decision
- People feeling pressured to concede when they don’t really agree 100%
Now this is an oversimplification. And I realize that consensus is necessary in certain situations with small groups where really important decisions will affect everyone. Like families. I realize that consensus may come after negotiations and compromises all around.
However, most of my experiences with consensus involve power and coercion and compliance and silence and silencing and frustration.
So rather than taking pride in consensus, when we see it, I think we should ask ourselves
- Whose opinion are we seeking when we mention consensus? Whose voices might be missing and what are their thoughts? Why were those voices not considered in the first place? How can we involve them earlier?
- Whose views have more influence and power? Is it possible others have been coerced, been complying, been compromising? How can we avoid that in future? If compromise occurred, who has compromised more and who less?
Thoughts? Not seeking consensus here…