In my governance NOI response I proposed several different methods be used to solicit input from a wide variety of stakeholders and bring forward from those processes clear paths for making a real strategy that take input from a wide range of stakeholders.
When the first governance drafts came out of the NPO, they articulated that the steering committee would operate via consensus BUT then it also articulated a whole set of voting rules for NOT abiding by consensus.
When I asked about their choice of using the term consensus to define a particular methodology – they came back and said well we didn’t actually mean to suggest the use of a particular proces.
But consensus IS a process method I said…and they said we didn’t mean to proscribe a method. So we were sort of in a loop.
Now that we are in this stage that is considering governance and systems for the community of self identified stakeholders (and people beyond this group who will be the users of the outputs). What I don’t know is if people really know what real consensus process is or if we have anyone who is experienced in leading actual consensus processes? It keeps feeling to me like we are using Roberts Rules of Order and then getting everyone to agree – thus having “consensus”. That isn’t consensus process.
Tree Bressen who was the leader of the Group Pattern Language project (I participated along with many others in its development) has an amazing collection of resources about conensus process including a flow chart of consensus process and Top 10 mistakes to avoid them.
Are we using consensus process?
One of the big issues of our democracy today (in the liberal west broadly) is that we have this tendency to believe that “voting” is the thing that makes it democratic. Voting is a particular method and one that by its nature sets up an adversarial dynamic. There are other methods and ways of achieving democracy and we can go well beyond the results of our current systems by using them. Tom has done a lot of research into them over the years at the Co-Intelligence Institute and has published two books The Tao of Democracy and Empowering Public Wisdom.
I am glad methods outside what has been the normative frame of “Roberts Rules of Order” as Democracy are being considered…however we need to be clear on what processe we are using.