Consensus with Sean Madsen - Boston Skillshare

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Consensus boils down to forming a decision that everyone agrees on.

What happens

Ideally, you don't ever get to that point if you do the rest of it in a good way. If you do...

Prerequisites

Being very intentional about the way you do things. If you have people who want this process to be organic, that will be difficult.

Having empathy.

If the group agrees to a time limit on a topic or meeting, make sure upcoming limits are announced in advance.

Check with people who may need to leave early.

Roles: Facilitator, Timekeeper, Minority Voice (Vibes monitor), Notetaker (job-jot -- when someone comes up with something in the meeting that someone has to do, it's fun to shout out "Job Jot"), hand caller

Write the next meeting time at the top of the meeting notes.
Keep them in a place where people can read them whenever they want.

Don't eat while notetaking. Many people make this mistake.

Notetaker is an important role.

Not everything should get noted, for instance something personally sensitive to

Hand-calling. I love hand-calling. You can forget about consensus altogether, as long as you have a hand-caller

* Prevents people from talking too much.
* Allows people to be prepared to say what they need to say.
*

Hand-calling tips. The idea of a stack.

People can

The hand-caller needs to always be scanning everyone and making eye contact with everyone at the meeting constantly.

Don't just keep your hand up while someone else is talking. It can distract them. It is the job of the hand-caller to let you know that you've been added to the stack.

The hand-caller needs to be really aware at all times. Don't be eating, don't be knitting.

Have a person call hands who is not the facilitator.

The person who is facilitating should also raise his or hand to speak, most of the time.

Question, often a question mark like hand signal

General comment, usually a flat hand. ("I'd like room C.")

Direct response, usually one index finger ("Yesterday, I found out room B is not available.)

So the hand-caller should put a direct response

Point of process, two hands together in a flattish O

First point of process, then direct response, then question, then general comment.

You could have a hand signal for a proposal.

Maybe you don't want to do hand-calling. I think you're crazy. But there are

The wiggly fingers-- it doesn't require being called on Also sometimes

Facilitation. I'm not going to talk about facilitator much. The facilitation things are things that everyone should be doing.

But facilitator should be able to be very authoritarian. And that's OK. Interrupt people when appropriate and guide structure of meeting to be more effective.

In order for someone to do that and still participate in the meeting with their opinion, it's very important to separate their role of facilitator with being a

If you have an opinion, make a hand signal and wait for the hand caller to call on you.

Even use the "point of process" hand signal and wait for the hand-caller to pick you when you need to make a facilitation point.

Yes to the question with thumbs up

Thumbs sideways depends on the context. It is really important

Sometimes

Point is that it's nonverbal.

A go-around is the opposite of a straw pole.

Get a sense of where everyone is, understand their point of view.

Don't use a straw for a contentious issue.

All of the good points of issue A, all the bad points. All the good poin

Another tool: take a break.

Small groups.

Popcorn style, get rid of the hand calling and let anyone speak.

Final tool: create space to talk about the meeting, not any of the issues or topics.

Practices

"Step up, stap back" – idea that people who already

Jokes during meetings can be really good. Or it can be really terrible (even if it's a good joke).

I like the expectation that people can make one joke, but a joke about the joke is going too far. [Laughter in the room.]

"I don't have time to talk about how we all should be communicating with each other."
(That is the line of the conference!)

  • Own your own feelings. (I'd like to move to room C)
  • Corollary, don't say "Let's" move or "How about" we move
  • Don't say the obvious: "this room is too small" if that's already been decided.

    If your reason for opposing something or wanting something is personal

    then

    Important for groups to already have agreed on some kind of baseline what is right for the group

    What's best for the group

    The person who wants change still has to be ready for compromise.

    If your group has been doing really bad things for a year, that can be hard to change with consensus.

    But if you have been doing really good things, it can keep people new coming in from changing things.

    If you are having trouble making decisions. Don't do the structure (a schedule of rooms) to get out of the decision because people have strong feelings about it. That will simply mean that some people are always unhappy with it.

    Funnelling the choice with guidelines can be useful.

    Cutting off the corner of

    People are not going to get into an ideological debate over sponges. We hope.

    Don't tell the committee things like "we want to do it this way" but tell them what the end result should be. Give them room and autonomy to do it their way, take ownership, and have some fun doing it.

    A clear indication, decision, on who is in the group and who is not in the group. This applies both for people entering and leaving a group. If this is left to an organic process, it can fall apart both for making decisions

    If there is any ambiguity about "do we need consensus from that person" you are in big trouble.

    Ask someone who says peace out and disappears if they want to be part of the decisions.

    If at each meeting you come up with the date for the next meeting, people's schedules will not be aligned. Schedule regular meetings.

    Start meeting with how they are, what's up with their life.
    End the meeting with
    "Check ins" and "Check outs"

    Sit in a circle. If people are not in a circle and can't see other people – the importance of hand signals and facial expressions and body language. That's up to the people coming into the meeting space to sit appropriately, up to everyone to move, and in particular the vibes checker and facilitator

    Agenda-setting. The meeting agenda should be available for everyone to see and edit at all times.

    This might mean the internet. [Laughter] It might mean a piece of paper where people know where it

    It should be: I am reading the agenda items,
    Then someone can put the agenda items in an order better than the way they were put there.

    If they don't feel comfortable even adding a meeting agenda item, then you have much more fundamental problems than the process of setting an agenda.

    Don't put things on the agenda that can be decided outside of the meeting. If the committee can handle it.
    Have people estimate the time their agenda item will

    Do not put an "issue" about people wanting to switch rooms too often on the agenda. That is something you can talk to the room-switch proposers directly and personally.

    Not everyone will attend every meeting. You can make a decision on what quorum would be.

    People not at the meeting, how do you get consent? Each group should work it out themselves. Some just say if you aren't at the meeting you don't get a voice.

    But for each decision, you should think about, should it require checking in with the people who aren't there.

    What if you are deciding something that is made up of a large number of discrete options? (There are 50 rooms, which do we pick?) You can make a grid: Person 1, Person 2... across the top. Room A, Room B... down the side. Use a 1-5 rating

    Standard deviation can represent the contention in the group. If there's time, or after the fact

    Solving problems that require a large number of small decisions. Say we have 100 rooms and we have to decide which ones we open to the public. Can also do a grid.

    Tips:
    Deadline for responding to proposals.
    Formulate a guideline for what decisions require consensus for everyone and what can be decided by those at a meeting.
    Use online tools, wikis. People type "hand" in chat.

    You don't have to be in a group that has agreed to consensus to use these. You can subversively bring consensus tools in.

    1. Hand-calling. It's like consensus in disguise. Group may well agree to a handcaller. Or you can just raise your hand. Then put it down. Those few people who see you. They'll get upset. If people you let see you are the conversation dominators, they may call on you.
    2. Convert the agenda-making process into a collaborative one. So people can see the agenda and add to it whenever they want.

    Consensus does take a lot of time. It is difficult. But it is worth it, because the time you take in meeting is saved in implementing the issue, because it's much clearer what has to be done to everyone. And the repercussions of the decision are often much easier to deal with. The authoritarian decision may be quick, but it may be disastrous.

    Consensus is really empowering to newcomers.

    People tend toward consensus: where do we go out to dinner?

    All this structure

    [I am definitely using hand signals next time I'm with a group of friends who has to decide where we're going to dinner.]

    Questions

    Problem with one person who always has to be the center of attention, and takes advantage of the consensus process to wake every meeting about them?

    Sean: I don't know. [full room of laughter]

    Tricia: Give them a job.

    Sean: I love that.

    Q: And someone who is too detail oriented and gets into it in the meeting? How do you deal when it gets too complicated, too long at the meeting.

    Masha: If someone is very

    Clarify what your needs are for communication, "I am not comfortable understanding things in these ways."

    Q: How do you explain the process to people.

    Tricia: Go over the techniques before every meeting [or when joining the process]

    Masha: Everyone definitely wants consensus, but if you

    Q from Masha: Blocking or standing aside?
    Sean: Glad you brought that up. I didn't use the term block. I don't like it.

    I did talk about balancing accountability with responsibility.

    A block is really just someone saying "I don't want to do that" and justifying it with something. If it's just a personal want, they should not be prepared to do that

    The problem is if people [don't grasp this concept.]

    I need to be sure to talk to Sean Madsen about Decisions API