Why Should My BUD Use Consensus?


"[Consensus] is profoundly significant for the future of the species. We must learn to live together cooperatively, resolving our conflicts nonviolently and making our decisions consensually. We must learn to value diversity and respect all life, not just on a physical level, but emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. We are all in this together."

~ C.T. Butler & Amy Rothstein, On Conflict and Consensus

If Conditions For Use of Consensus exist within your BUD, you might be wondering "what then is the advantage for using Consensus?" More importantly, what is the advantage to helping move your BUD to the point where it can use Consensus? Here are some arguments for use of the Consensus process:

  1. It decides without voting, and therefore without a "losing" and a "winning" side. Consensus makes a stronger decision than voting- everyone can give willing assent to an idea and participate more fully in implementation. 
  2. It is a way of accumulating viewpoints and synthesizing, rather than choosing one idea over another.
  3. It aims at persuasion and not coercion.
  4. It provides an opportunity for everyone to contribute information and participate. 
  5. There are more opinions than in a voting system.
  6. People get a chance to hash things over and as a result develop a better proposal than if a quick vote had been taken.
  7. Consensus affirms that the integrity of the group is more important than any one issue that the group may face.
  8. It affirms the group's ability to think as a group rather than considering proposals from individuals and then compromising.
  9. Consensus discourages back room politics and encourages openness.

Consensus creates a cooperative dynamic. Only one proposal is considered at a time. Everyone works together to make it the best possible decision for the group. Any concerns are raised and resolved, sometimes one by one, until all voices are heard. Since proposals are no longer property of the presenter, a solution can be created more cooperatively.

It is often said that Consensus is time-consuming and difficult. Making complex, difficult decisions is time-consuming no matter what the process. Many different methods can be efficient, if every participant shares a common understanding of the "rules of the game". Like any process, Consensus can be inefficient if all the members of a group do not follow the same structure.

This website codifies a formal structure for decision-making. It is hoped that the relationship between this book and Consensus as described herein would be similar to the relationship between Robert's Rules of Order and Parliamentary Procedure.



Sources: On Conflict & Consensus

Contributors: Amy Rothstein, C.T. Butler

Recommended Books: On Conflict & Consensus