As part of LCNC's determination to embed democratic practices that reflect LCNC's grass roots, transparent, non-hierarchical nature, it is committed to practices such as Consensus Decision Making and Participatory Processes. These are explained in more detail below.
Consensus Decision Making
Consensus decision making is a creative and dynamic way of reaching agreement between all members of a group. Instead of simply voting for an item and having the majority of the group getting their way, a consensus group is committed to finding solutions that everyone actively supports - or at least can live with. This makes sure that all opinions, ideas and concerns are taken into account. By listening closely to each other, the group aims to come up with proposals that work for everyone.
Consensus decision making is based on the idea that people should have full control over their lives and that power should be shared by all, not concentrated only in the hands of a few. It's about having the freedom to decide one's own course in life and the right to play an equal role in creating a common future. This is why it is used widely in groups working towards a more just and equitable society, such as small voluntary groups, co-operatives and campaign networks.
Consensus is neither compromise nor unanimity - it aims to go further by weaving together everyone's best ideas and most important concerns - a process that often results in surprising and creative solutions, inspiring both the individual and the group as whole.
At the heart of consensus is a respectful dialogue between equals. It's about everyone working together to meet both the individual’s needs and the group's aims - working with each other rather than for or against each other, something that requires openness and trust.
Consensus is looking for 'win-win' solutions that are acceptable to all - no decision will be made against the will of an individual or a minority. Instead the group adapts to all its members' needs.
If everyone agrees to a decision, they will all be much more committed to making it happen.
In LCNC we are committed to using consensus as a way of putting our values and ethos as a co-operative organisation into practice.
This commitment extends to sharing our learning and experience with others through training and continuing to learn and grow as consensus practitioners ourselves. We have trained with Seeds For Change, an organisation that provides consensus training for organisations, an experience we have found to be invaluable.
What are Participatory Processes?
Participatory Processes are specific methods employed to achieve active participation by all members of a group in a decision making process. This approach can be used for most issues and should give equal opportunities to everybody involved. The primary goal is to create productive discussions to develop positive solutions.
Simple guidelines for all Participatory Processes
- Be open, flexible and humble towards each other. Give everybody a chance to speak, participate and listen to each other even if you might disagree.
- It is often easier to develop trust by working in smaller groups.
- Use open questions (e.g. questions that start with who, what, where, when and how) rather than questions that require yes/no answers. Open questions are more productive and require the participants to think through their answers.
- Plan to have enough time to go through all of the stages in the process, particularly the end stage and the evaluation stage, both of which can be the most valuable.
Thanks to 'Change the World'.