Demonstrating consensus decision making as an effective component of a Highest Good society, when conducted by people with the consciousness for The Highest Good of All, is a path to positive and permanent global change. It is a commitment to equality, communication, and creative solutions with the ultimate end result being a maximally empowered and effective group creative process. This page contains the following sections about consensus:
The founding team of One Community has been specifically trained in consensus by One Community consultants Dr. Connie Stomper and Jack Reed (author of The Next Evolution). These consensus trainings are part of the One Community learning and screening process and a requirement for all team members before moving onto the property. Based on experience and training, One Community considers the following as keys to what consensus is:
Likewise, we feel it is valuable for people to clearly understand what consensus isn’t:
One Community’s definition of consensus can further be expanded to include these finer and more complex points:
There are two basic keys to the consensus decision making process: learning the techniques, and holding the consciousness to work the techniques successfully. Consensus is different from other types of decision making because it emphasizes the cooperative development of a decision with group members working together rather than competing against each other. The goal of consensus is to create a decision that is consented to by all group members through the process of GOING FOR THE HIGHEST GOOD OF ALL CONCERNED; having and holding this consciousness is foundational to the success of the consensus model.
This is the process of making decisions based on the premise that each group member is satisfied with the decision. Not everyone may agree exactly, word for word, but by going with the spirit of the decision to be made, all have agreed on one forward action.
In the consensus process there are no votes taken. There is only the goal of unity, which may or may not be born of discord, disagreement, agreement, opposing points of view, attachment/detachment, or other normal expressions occurring in group societies. Consensus decisions are reached with everyone present contributing to the process, uniting their intention and the results they want.
Human beings can raise their conscious awareness, their level of acceptance, and their outer expression to such a degree as to bring about harmony, unconditional loving, joy, and success among their societal groups be it family, group living situations, church, work, or play. This is key to those desiring to reach a consensus because the human ability to become refined in our consciousness, allowing for everyone’s mistakes, allowing for everyone’s feelings, thoughts, concerns, and creativity are all part of the consensus model.
The more we allow the spirit of our oneness to flood our consciousness, the closer we come to acceptance of what is here and now —differing opinions and perspectives. Acceptance then brings in peace and joy. These are symbols that our hearts are open and we have begun to share in a greater wisdom than any one of us possess individually such that we can make decisions that work for everyone. In consensus we must deal with how others think and feel and allow for and incorporate that. More than just acceptance, this requires understanding of self and others.
Unlike majority rule, which expects those expressing disagreement to cooperate when they “lose” the vote, consensus seeks cooperation among all before the decision is made, thus a higher level decision is available and cooperation is more easily accomplished.
The richness of social consensus comes in part from the intimacy collaborators are willing to cultivate with each other. True intimacy embraces loving, caring, and sharing in a demonstrable, tangible way. Active listening and willingness to share are important components. We’ve found that often group cohesiveness depends a great deal on whether it has developed and acknowledged intimacy and safety. Making decisions work for all of us requires that we really get to know each other-how we think and feel, what our values are, etc.
In working consensus with a group of people, it is not only necessary to acquire and demonstrate the attitudes and qualities necessary for consensus, but also to have the skills to facilitate successful and productive meetings.
Consensus invites and includes all those who want to participate. It encourages all points of view to be shared. Consensus is more than just agreement because we use creativity to expand our consciousness to include even the unrepresented points of view, the unpopular points of view, and the different or least likely points of view. In this way we open ourselves to create the highest quality decision.
Let’s change our traditional attitudes to the attitude that we can make it work for everyone. We can all win. Consensus means considering what actions would be for The Highest Good of All and how each of us can move beyond our own mental or emotional reactions or positions.
Effectively operating a consensus model means we listen carefully and with empathy to others even when we disagree with them.
Creating a safe space to communicate is essential for consensus to take place. We need to have safety to fully participate, and full participation creates safety. Inner safely addresses our willingness to look at our patterns, concerns, feelings, fears, etc., make them known to ourselves, and be willing to work with them in a constructive and loving way. This may include our willingness to share our history and our personal situations.
Learning how to give and receive feedback in loving neutrality, and in the spirit of learning, is also foundational to the consensus process.
In decision making at One Community, the core value of “Consensus” is applied by asking ourselves the following three key questions:
One Community’s Path to Consensus page discusses how we are organizing and making decisions now. The questions above and our current approach are being used as we continue to hone our skills as a group so that every individual fully understands and is able to apply and embody all of the following essential foundations required for consensus decision making*:
In addition to all this, after complete discussion and collaboration, and before a consensus decision is made, each individual is asked “are you complete” to make sure no further discussion or input is desired. If everyone is then complete, the consensus decision is made.
* To ensure we are always aligned with our purpose, values, and mission, One Community uses the values as defined by our organization as the compass for all our decision making; we then factor in the diversity of individual perspectives and experiences. We highly recommend this approach because it saves us hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of collaborative decision making time. If you are considering our model as a template for your own creation, we especially recommend you apply this approach too and use, adapt, or completely change the values we’ve presented so you too can create a clear guidance system that aligns with your own organizational/group/individual needs.
We believe consensus is an essential part of the community maintenance process, a foundation for a sustainable society, a key part of what we desire to share as part of our open source blueprint, and a commitment like no other to Oneness and working together for The Highest Good of All Concerned. For this reason we are committed to a 100% consensus trained team and phasing in consensus on the property over the first 90 days as outlined below.
We will phase in full-consensus decision making over the first 3 months of being on the property. We will take at least three months to do this because of the high volume of decisions to be made and a recognition that consensus in this environment will be a learning process. This phasing in will be accomplished in two 45-day phases of majority-vote decision making leading to a full-consensus governing system* at the 90-day mark. Here is the phasing in process:
This timeline can be altered through the voting process outlined above. To ensure that we end up operating at full-consensus sooner rather than later, however, all members must be present (no delegation of voting) after the 90-day mark until full-consensus (as outlined by the Community Planet model for large groups) is adopted and participation becomes 100% optional.
* Note: Read the Frequently Answered Questions section for questions about what decisions will be made by consensus, emergency decision making measures, and more.
Jack Reed – The Community Planet Foundation
One Community has also created a Consensus and Decision Making Lesson Plan as part of the open source Highest Good Education component. This lesson plan is purposed to teach all subjects, to any learning level, in any environment using the central theme of “Consensus and Decision Making.” Here is the mind map for the lesson plan:
One Community considers consensus decision making a foundation of what we will be open source sharing as a self-governance option for those interested in this component of Highest Good society and creating and living for The Highest Good of All. Through specific training and screening, and a commitment to the consensus process itself, we are growing our team capable of this level of shared responsibility, collaborative trust, mutual empowerment, and “We” versus “I” consciousness embodying teamwork, cooperation, and the true definition of Community.
Q: Where can I learn more about your other values and how you use each of them in your organization?
Click the icons below to be taken to a complete page for each value:
Q: Where can I get more information about your philosophies for world change?
Please take a look at each of these additional pages: (click icons)
Q: Will every decision be made by consensus?
No, the consensus process outlined above and on the Consensus for Groups of 200+ page will be used to identify which decisions should be made by consensus and which decisions are better made by groups or individuals. These groups or individuals will be chosen by consensus based on objective qualifications for their role.
Q: How will this process work with groups larger than your initial 50? How does everyone get an equal voice as the number of community members grows?
Please see the Consensus for Groups of 200+ page for complete details on this.
Q: What about disputes and other decision situations where dramatic emotions may become involved?
This is one of the reasons why specific training and screening are essential. In disputes situations or situations where emotions have become involved, the consciousness for The Highest Good of All has been forgotten or put aside. This can also be described as people no longer coming from “The Loving,” or “involving their egos,” or “running an agenda.”
In these situations personal responsibility is encouraged by looking within first with the consciousness that we create, promote or allow everything that happens to us: Taking personal accountability for our lives and subjective perspectives. Then, if clarity is still needed between the parties involved, the disputes are settled by the following flexible options, always bringing in love and creativity:
This system is flexible with each situation, and the parties involved can choose the options. Also, everyone in the Community belongs to both an Essence Hub as well as one of the Focus Hubs. While the Focus Hub involves more of the work being done in the 12 areas, there still is a group support that takes place there, and, if there is an issue where one is lapsing from that consciousness of The Highest Good, it will be obvious to the group. However, the Essence Hubs consist of a group of up to 12 who are a real support system for each of those members. This is really where individual issues will be seen, and, if the issue cannot be dealt with within the group, then it goes to the Dispute Resolving Format and then, if still no progress, to the Expand Hub for possible dismissal.
Q: What happens when a decision needs to be made and it is clear just one or two people are determined to block the decision?
Full-consensus decision making, once achieved, will come with a two-step emergency procedure. Step 1 of this process will be the option for any individual to call for a 90% majority vote to end discussion if it seems all points have been heard, all options explored, and complete inflexibility exists in a small enough minority that a 90% majority vote can be achieved. If a 90% majority vote is achieved, then a second 90% vote can be taken to make a decision. If both of these 90% votes succeed, a decision will be made in accordance with the will of the 90% majority.
This system eliminates the possibility of any obstructionist individual(s) from blocking a decision while also assuring we maintain our commitment to the values of consensus described above on this page. It does this because the first 90% vote requires that at least 90% of those involved in the decision are in agreement that all ideas have been heard, all options have been explored, and ending further discussion is an agreed upon good idea. The second 90% vote is then still required to see if enough agreement exists to actually make the decision. If either of these 90% votes fails, discussion continues as needed or the decision is tabled for later discussion.
This 90% majority vote can also be used to keep things moving by moving for agreement on part of a decision, to elect a committee to make the decision, to elect to do more research, etc.