This handbook on group decision-making for those wanting to operate in a consensus fashion stresses the advantages of informal, common sense approaches to working together. It describes how any group can put these approaches into practice, and relates numerous examples of situations in which such approaches have been applied.
When someone convenes a meeting, he or she typically finds appropriate meeting space, invites people to attend, and perhaps drafts an agenda. In a consensus building process, however, which may involve multiple meetings over the course of weeks, months, or years, convening is a more complex task. In this context, convening typically involves
- assessing a situation to determine whether or not a consensus-based approach is feasible;
- identifying and inviting participants to ensure that all key interests (i.e., stakeholders) are represented;
- locating the necessary resources to help convene, conduct, and support the process; and
- planning and organizing the process with participants, or working with a facilitator or mediator to do so.
It may be helpful to think of convening as Phase 1 in a consensus building ...