Information on Consensus Decision Process in #OccupyDameStreet

What is consensus?

Consensus is a way of reaching decisions.  It is a process which brings together the views of all members of a group but it does not mean that all have to agree in everything or abandon their personal values.  Consensus decision-making requires that we share a common goal and are willing to work on issues together so that all concerns are addressed and we find a way forward.  It is about an environment in which everybody feels welcome and safe to speak, get their views acknowledged and validated.  In the consensus process, we share the responsibility for transforming our principles into meaningful change.  Through the process, the group proposes amendments to the original proposals until everybody is comfortable with them.

Why use consensus?

The best answer was perhaps given at the Direct Action Conference during Berlin Climate summit in 1995.

The consensus process replaces competition with cooperation and ensures that all people who find themselves in a minority do not lose control over their lives.  As a decision-making method, consensus is slow and has its limits but it never means a lack of action.  Quite to the contrary, it makes action precise, sustainable and participatory.  Decisions made by consensus are usually of a higher standard and speed action rather than stall it.

Consensus decision-making works best when:

  • we realise that it is not only what we do but also how we go about doing things that is part of the world we want to bring about.
  • we share common goals.
  • we respect the process and other speakers.
  • we work to foster mutual trust and are ready to assume that people have good intentions.
  • we are committed to work collectively and creatively on the decisions that need to be made.

Consensus decision making does not work when:

  • we conclude that our individual worldview is not only correct but also the only way to think about the world.
  • we are not willing to take time to unlearn the patterns of behaviour that we have come to accept as ‘normal’.
  • we are not open and trustful.

The role of facilitators:

  • they do not have any agenda of their own beyond moving the meeting forward and helping to ensure that the process remains egalitarian, participatory and truly democratic at all times.
  • they should extremely rarely express their own opinions and restrain themselves from using the hand signals.
  • they are not chairpersons; they are not ‘leaders’ of the group.

Consensus map step-by-step:


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4 Responses to Consensus

  1. Pears /Parachutes says:

    Live link workshop with Occupy Cleaveland USA and Other Ocuppy 29th Dec,16.00 on SKype .
    “Whats Consensus Mean For Us?”

    Hi all,

    Im glad to have you all respond with curiousity and support
    for our online Occupy gatherings. Im deligthed and feel supported by all
    your individual ieas and suggestions. For ease, I have decided to mail you
    all together rather than answer all responses individually.

    We hooked up on the 29th at 16.00 with Occupy Cleveland and others.Some
    people unfamilar with skype group calls found it confusing at first.When
    we all got clarity and where in the call some U.S.A police officers came
    to search one of the camps involved and interacted with one of the
    participants on our call for quite a while.Which meant confusion and
    concern for the participants wellbeing expressed by the other participants
    in the call.
    With all this and our wish to be inclusive,supportive and fair.We decided
    to halt and have another go on Thursday,29th december 011, 16.00 GMT.

    So heres the invitation.Feel welcome to prepare and participate in this
    event. You will need to provide us with your skype name.Send it to skype
    contact:Flutterbouy or mail [email protected]

    From the recieved technical suggestions for these group calls .
    Heres what Jonathan is looking at with future calls in mind .Thanks for
    sharing these.

    In the mean time I wish you all a easy,peaceful week+ of joyful resistance.

    See you on the 29th.

  2. Parachutes: nonprofit workshop collectivePears says:

    Hi ,
    Parachutes invite you to participate in a full day workshop .
    ‘Consensus Decison Making for Groups’
    Consensus decison making aspires to reach agreement and decisions that
    groups can
    happily implement through fair and supported group participation.
    Is consensus a tiring,struggle. Or is it a creative,dynamic and fun way to
    decisions and action. We will explore these and more curious quetsions and
    process and tools avilable to work well with consensus.

    when:,04 December, 2011, 11.00-16.00

    where: Seomra Sproai,10 belvidre Court D1.

    .A social centre in Dublin 1.
    Contributions for workshop are
    by suggested Donation of 5 euro for the full day.8 Euro including lunch.

    booking is adviced please conatct Parachutes at :[email protected]


    in apprection all at

    Parachutes is a facilaiation,workshop and communications collective.We are
    profit ,supporting the community in joyful resistance.

    • Pears /Parachutes says:

      Hi Occupy Dame Street,

      On Thursday 15th at 16.00 our time and 11.oo USA time. Parachutes
      facilitation and workshop collective will be linking up with Occupy
      Cleaveland (USA),other Occupy camps and consensus decision facilitators to
      share ideas and needs around
      “What Consensus Means For Us?”

      We will do this through skype.
      We invite you along to participate if you are curious,wish to share your
      experience,need support on the consensus approach to decison making.

      As its a Skype call this time places may be limited to 10. future link ups
      may allow more people to participate at a time.

      To participate you will need:
      the use of a skype account.
      TO share your Skype name in a mail with us by no later than 13.00 Our
      time,Thursday 15th Dec.

      We will invite the first peopel that provide their details and continue
      until we reach maximum capacity on skype.

      So contact Parachutes to participate at
      [email protected]

      In appreciation

  3. fergal ryan says:

    Just like to say great job to all for updating the website ! It’s made it so much easyer for me to understand everything involved in the Consensus process :) Really guys thanks so much !