We’re looking for Consensus Not Agreement

Our leadership team entered a very interesting discussion last week during a workshop.

We were talking about the vision we wrote and created over a year ago for our organisation and had a workshop around what it meant and still means for all of us.

It was a great and fun  discussion and it ignited some real energy with the result that we saw that our vision needs an update. However one particular item came up around agreement over the vision, that as a team we must have agreement, otherwise there is a risk we run over someone who does not agree.

I had trouble with this because it is next to near impossible for a group of people to Agree on everything all the time … but we must move forward with issues rather than discuss, discuss discuss.

The other side of course is that if you dont have agreement the majority beat up the minority and the minority go very quiet and then this is seen as “consent”.

I live in Sweden and the Swedes are renowed for their careful analysis and cautious approach. They even joked about it at the half time show of the Eurovision Song contest in 2013. (for those with time the part I am referring to in particular starts at 1:03 mins)

What concerns me is that we err on the side of caution too much and enter a state of Analysis Paralysis. My approach ( which could be seen as forceful is …. “do we know enough to take a step? … ok then lets try and reflect … If we’re wrong we can fix it”

But not eveyone is like me and how do you deal with this dynamic in a team? How do you really ensure that every voice is heard.

I was reminded of Christopher Averys book. “Team work is an individual Skill”. Page 98

Consensus – Here Christopher Avery speaks about why its important for a High Performing team.

Consensus isnt about being nice. Its the high octane fuel for team direction and energy

He even offers help with creating a “consensus Continuum” for your team and it goes like this:

When someone makes a proposal that affects eveyone in the team, poll each member for their level of agreement

1. Unqualified Yes. Move Forward.

2. Perfectly acceptable. Move Forward.

3. I can live with the decision of the group. Move Forward.

4. I trust the group and will not block this decision, but I need to register my disagreement. Move Forward.

5. I think more work is needed before deciding. Do Not Move Forward.

6. I do not agree and feel the need to stand in the way of this decision. Do Not Move Forward.

Consensus is 100% agreement to move forward together.

Without consensus a team will lack direction. Without consensus your team runs the risk of having low commitment on actions.

So its consensus not agreement we are after. Thanks Christopher Avery.