Which is more important: Consensus or consent?
Folks who are frequently sit sequestered in team meeting and working groups just about anywhere by most often attempt reaching consensus. A lot of time is wasted reaching for the all but impossible unless you have a team of one or a team of dogmatic clones. Consensus is a close relative to compromise. I give a little and you give a little and voila we have reached a compromise and thus can reach consensus on an issue. But now either party no longer gets what they really wanted and perhaps worse, the issue is so watered down that the initial intent is totally missed and the whole team loses.
Why spend the time and energy convincing the others that everyone needs to approve and also like the final result?
- It is much better to make your point and see if it can get the majority supporting it. That is best done by the meeting facilitator who lists all the solutions to the issues at hand.
- This is followed by putting this list up on e.g. a whiteboard and letting everybody vote for their top three solutions. This way you will shrink down and perhaps consolidate your long list.
- Now instead of focusing on getting everybody to give a little to take a little, drive home the point being able to consent to an idea / concept.
- Consent is different as it only requires for everyone to be committed to moving ahead with whatever the team finally decides to do.
The fine but important line between consent and consensus is worth hours and oodles of frayed nerves none of which any leader-manager ought to jeopardize in regular business meetings. Get involved and make sure your designated meeting facilitator is on board with the concept.