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.
For consensus building groups, it is often true that “90 percent of the work gets done in the last 10 percent of the time.” Whether the issue is siting a local landfill or negotiating a global treaty, consensus building processes often become far more challenging as they enter their final stages. In this chapter, we present a basic framework for building consensus in groups. Then we explore the obstacles that emerge as groups try to produce consensus, and we offer techniques and strategies for overcoming them. Throughout the chapter, we use the story of a consensus building group that is nearing the end of its work to illustrate both the obstacles and strategies for dealing with them. We begin by joining a ...