This month, participants in our free monthly video call, “Deepening the Art of Facilitating Consent,” asked me to send out one of the slides I used. The topic of the call was The Difference Between Consent and Consensus, and the point I made was: perhaps the real difference is not in how we make decisions, but in the process we use to get there. One difference that transforms the culture of meetings is between debate and dialogue. So, here is the slide for everyone. For easier printing, here is the original. It’s obvious that U.S. politics is entrenched in debate — but so are some of our board rooms, steering committees, leadership teams, and working groups. Which column best describes your groups’ culture? Does it feel like a culture of dialogue, until hot topics come up? If you are using consent or consensus for decision-making, but operate from a culture of debate, you are likely to experience challenges. On the call, one of the participants noticed in her organization, that some circles operated more from a culture of dialogue, while others got stuck arguing their positions. Today, we’re living in the in-between-cultures time. Even those of us who value a culture of dialogue can see clearly from our own experience that it takes learning, practice and support. I hope this chart comes in handy for all you collaborative leaders out there, who can help the group reflect on its processes. And, we are here to help when your team wants to learn collaborative decision making together!
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