Introduction to Consensus Decision Making

Consensus decision making is a creative and dynamic way of reaching agreement between all members of a group. Instead of simply voting for an item and having the majority of the group getting their way, a group using consensus is committed to finding solutions that everyone actively supports, or at least can live with.

This ensures that all opinions, ideas and concerns are taken into account. Through listening closely to each other, the group aims to come up with proposals that work for everyone. Consensus is neither compromise nor unanimity – it aims to go further by weaving together everyone’s best ideas and key concerns – a process that often results in surprising and creative solutions, inspiring both the individual and the group as whole.

Consensus can work in all types of settings – small groups, local communities, businesses, even whole nations and territories. The exact process may differ depending on the size of the group and other factors, but the basic principles are the same.

In the following guide you’ll find lots of useful information, not only about the basics of consensus decision making, but also about how to apply it to large groups of people and about ideas for dealing with common problems.

This guide is based on a pamphlet produced by the excellent Seeds for Change, the original is also available as a single .pdf document.