Consensus for enduring decisions only

In principle, consensus among the whole group is worth the effort for decisions intended to transcend generations. Consensus is achieved when every member of the group understands and consents to the same thing. It is much more arduous to make consensus decisions than it is to make majority-rule decisions or executive decisions. However, consensus decisions are much more likely than majority-rule decisions to last because of the full understanding and consent among all members. When there is real consensus about a decision, there is no disgruntled minority working to change it later. For a group deciding its mission, values, or high-level policies – all intended to endure for future generations – taking the time to develop consensus among all members is worth the effort. Deciding what to have for lunch – a decision that lasts only through dessert – is not worth the effort to achieve consensus.

Practical Tip: For every decision, consider how long it is expected to last and choose an appropriate method. Be deliberate about using consensus for some things, majority vote for other things, and delegate the short-order things to individuals. We can let a few of the members make short-term decisions on behalf of all the members because we trust that these decisions will be in keeping with long-term decisions decided with the consensus of all the members.

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