I'm here in Michigan, almost a day into Step 2 training. We have been learning about consensus, and have committed to using it as our principal mode of decision making while deployed in the field. To ensure a thorough grounding for us, training also asks us to commit to using consensus from here on out for team decisions – so we'll be gaining experience rapidly!
Consensus is “a process of decision making where everyone is heard and therefore everyone can live with the decision”.
Consensus ensures that all those involved have an opportunity to voice their opinions, and know they've been heard. This provides more comprehensive input for the group to incorporate into their decision making compared to when only the loudest or most powerful individuals are heard. And in groups with long experience and/or high levels of trust, often an individual who disagrees on a particular issue can go along and support the resulting decision anyway, confident that his concerns were heard and considered.
My prior experience of consensus is academic: I have a basic understanding of how it works, but haven't used it with people and on issues that really matter.
I wonder about bowing to what I will perceive as pressure to be a good sport and not rock the boat. What about when I have a dissenting opinion but tell myself, 'this issue is small and doesn't merit dissension, leave it alone', so I choose to keep those thoughts and feelings private? How will I know when that choice is practical and efficient, and when it's cowardice? Maybe all I will really have managed to do is rob the team of the richness that consensus provides, and the strength and trust it helps build.
Surely there will also be times when I am quite clear that voicing my perspective is important, and consensus is necessary for the good of the team. At those times, will I actually participate as I hope to, with strength and sensitivity? Will I be able to integrate this training, and add any value with this process?
Right now it appears a frightening balancing act, with significant risks.
I will regularly remind myself (probably many times a day, at first) that the important thing isn't how many times I fall down, just that I keep getting up again.
Wish me luck!