by Tree Bressen
If your group can engage with all of the queries listed here to a sense
satisfaction, then your consensus process has a high chance of success.
Queries have a
long tradition among Quakers
(who are also very experienced practitioners of the consensus process),
there is a way in which the consensus process at its heart is
1. What is the common purpose of our
How encompassing is it; that is, which decisions are made by the group
(or its subgroups) and which by individuals? Why do we have meetings,
and what are the goals of those meetings?
2. How do we orient individuals who are
new to our group? How is our consensus method—both
and procedures—taught to new members?
3. How is the self-awareness of each
supported? What do we do to help our members step toward
4. How are friendships nourished among our
Which relationships most need support? What else would help improve our
relationships, and what can we do to make that happen?
5. What spirit do our meetings convey?
Do they feel safe and welcoming? What is the energy like?
6. What steps or procedures does this
group use in
order to reach consensus? What is the structure of our
7. How do we work with dissent?
have a healthy balance between expecting cooperation and honoring
legitimate differences, in service to the whole? What is the menu of
options for constructively addressing concerns? How do we invite
genuine consent rather than coercion? What is our robust procedure to
deal effectively with inappropriate blocks?
8. How does the group learn together for
improvement of its decision-making system? What feedback
loops are in place? How does change happen?
Tree Bressen, facilitator and teacher,
has been assisting intentional communities, nonprofits, and other
organizations with group process since 1994. Pages from her website are
available for copying and distribution free of charge as long as you
continue to include these credit lines and contact information.