The guidelines and techniques in this book are flexible and meant to be modified. Some of the guidelines, however, seem almost always to be true. These are the Rules of Formal Consensus:
- Once a decision has been adopted by Consensus, it cannot be changed without reaching a new Consensus. If a new Consensus cannot be reached, the old decision stands.
- In general, only one person has permission to speak at any moment. The person with permission to speak is determined by the group discussion technique in use and/or the facilitator. (The role of Peacekeeper is exempt from this rule).
- All structural decisions (i.e., which roles to use, who fills each role, and which facilitation technique and/or group discussion technique to use) are adopted by Consensus without debate. Any objection automatically causes a new selection to be made. If a role cannot be filled without objection, the group proceeds without that role being filled. If much time is spent trying to fill roles or find acceptable techniques, then the group needs a discussion about the unity of purpose of this group and why it is having this problem, a discussion which must be put on the agenda for the next meeting, if not held immediately.
- All content decisions (i.e., the agenda contract, committee reports, proposals, etc.) are adopted by Consensus after discussion. Every content decision must be openly discussed before it can be tested for Consensus.
- A concern must be based upon the principles of the group to justify a block to Consensus.
- Every meeting which uses Formal Consensus must have an evaluation.