Consent: When no one says "no" anymore when making decisions

Consent? This is not a spelling mistake, but a more pragmatic decision-making principle with quick results in contrast to consensus (with s).

Hardly any other decision-making principle is currently as much the talk of the town as consensus. It is the group decision-making method that works democratically on the one hand and quite pragmatically on the other. In the consensus method, decisions are made when no one is against them and not, as in the more familiar consensus (with s), when everyone is in favor

The consensus process has one major advantage: the "safe-enough-to-try" approach. Safe enough to take the proposed path as a decision. This sounds like a lazy compromise, but it is not: It is in the nature of decisions that they are made under uncertainty and incomparability. If one knew with certainty what the best decision was, there would be no need to involve anyone else. There would be an objectively correct decision. Everyone who works in a team knows that such clear decisions are rare in professional life. If you want to discuss all the uncertainties in the team, you end up in an endless loop and get stuck.

There are different nuances to leading the consensus.
Here is our proposal:

1. Describe "tension"

The person who wants to make a decision describes the initial situation, i.e. the problem - or "the tension," as it is formulated in newwork German - that requires a solution.

2. Make suggestion

Next, the person makes a concrete proposal on how to counter the tension. The aim here is not to find the perfect, best solution for all time, but only to put forward at least one good way of solving the problem.‍

3. Carifying questions

Now all other decision participants can ask their questions to better understand the proposal. It is important to remember that asking questions means "gathering information," not "sending out information.

4. Reaction round

Now everyone says what they think of the proposal. Allowed is what is not offensive.

‍5. Explain and adjust

Now it's the turn of the person who made the original proposal again. She can, based on the questions and reactions, adapt or expand her proposal.

6. Objection round

Now everyone is heard again. Those who have an objection state it. But be careful, objection means: "I am afraid that accepting the proposal will cause damage to the team or our organizations that we will not be able to repair, namely this: ... ". If no potential harm can be identified, the objection is: no objection.

7. Integration

If there are valid objections, they must be integrated one by one - by the person making the submission.

The end result is a decision that may not be exactly what the person originally wanted, but to which there are no objections. In the consensus process, therefore, we are not looking for a way to which everyone says yes, but for a way to which no one says no .

Published in
July 2023