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A Checklist for the Consensus Process and Facilitation

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These are just some of the many ways to conduct a meeting using the consensus process. Roles should be carried out by everyone as needed not just the person specially designated.

Basic Procedure

Before the meeting (or at previous meeting):

  • Choose facilitator(s)
  • Gather agenda items
  • Determine presenter/initiator for each item
  • Determine item type: announcement, report,
  • discussion, decision
  • Bring materials/supplies needed

At the meeting:

  • Connect (game, song, ritual, etc.)
  • Check-in/excitement-sharing
  • Agenda review: agree on order and time
  • Choose notetaker, timekeeper, vibeswatcher
  • Step through the agenda (big or little first?)
  • Take breaks
  • Announcements
  • Set next meeting
  • Evaluation (good, bad, better)
  • Closing (game, song, ritual, etc.)

The Flow of a Cooperative Decision-Making Process

 Background

  • What are we talking about?
  • Issue raised- what is the problem?
  • Clarify problem put it in context

Discuss

  • Bring out a diversity of ideas, concerns, perspectives
  • look at possible solutions and the problems with those solutions

 Develop Proposal /Proposal Made

  • Clarifying Questions
  • Concerns
  • Discussion / Friendly Amendments
  • Re-state Proposal

 Test for Consensus

  • Strong concerns /objections
  • Stand Asides
  • Blocks
  • Consensus

Consensus Reached

Decision Implemented – Who does what? Make sure there are no loose ends

Restate the decision for the note taker (including implementation)

Tools for Successful Meetings

  • Brainstorms,  Popcorn (no order, just popping in)
  • Go around the circle, rounds
  • Stacking (count off – limit to 3-5),
  • Small-group discussion, dyads, tryads
  • Advantages/disadvantages chart
  • Straw Polls – sense of group
  • Visual aids, Visible notes
  • Criteria Process
  • Goals’/priorities-setting techniques, dots
  • Challenges/devil’s advocate questions
  • Participation equalizers (pebbles, etc.)
  • Active listening in pairs
  • Support groups/caucuses,  Feelings sharing
  • Fishbowls, Role plays

Typical Tasks of Facilitators

  • Helps formulate agenda
  • Helps establish a hopeful, upbeat, and safe atmosphere
  • Helps group work through decisions:
  • Calls on Speakers
  • Asks for clarification
  • Summarizes, sorts, focuses discussion — lists threads of
  • thought, agreements, and disagreements
  • Helps prioritize and order discussion topics
  • Brings out all viewpoints
  • Looks for underlying agreements
  • Synthesizes differences
  • Restates Proposal, Limits proposals on floor
  • Formalizes Decisions
  • Encourages equal participation
  • Draws out quiet people
  • Limits Talkers
  • Uses Facilitation Tools
  • Stays neutral while facilitating

Typical Tasks of a Vibeswatcher

  • Watches the process of the meeting
  • Notices underlying feelings from tone of voice and body
  • language, points out tension and weariness,
  • recommends changes
  • Stops bad process (domineering, guilt-tripping,
  • interrupting, put-downs, bulldozing, defensiveness, space-outs, etc.)
  • Helps resolve conflicts
  • Helps work out negative emotions (fear, anger, anxiety, hopelessness)
  • Suggests tools to improve meetings
  • Helps create a safe, accepting tone
  • Deals with outside distractions

Tools for Stress-Reduction/Conflict Resolution

  • Stretch breaks/cooperative games
  • Singing
  • Humor
  • Affirmations
  • Feelings sharing
  • Silence (mediation, prayer)
  • Calm voice
  • Making LOUD noises
  • Eye contact
  • Breathing (deep)
  • Back rubs
  • Fears in the hat
  • Appreciations/affirmations
  • Active listening
  • I-messages
  • Restating other’s viewpoint / modeling opposite views
  • Support groups / Caucuses
  • Venting emotions somewhere else
  • Gripe sessions – share feelings
  • Resentment sharing
  • Fishbowls
  • Spectrums
  • Expulsion based on agreements