Conditional Consensus

Conditional Consensus Decision Making

The Green Mountain Peace and Justice Party has, since inception, suspended Robert’s Rules of Order and committed to decision-making by consensus, recognizing that the ethical ground of consensus decision-making values the good of the whole group above individual of factional preferences.

In instances when full consensus can not be reached, dissenters express opposition by “standing aside” or expressing reservations. Implicit in a decision not to block consensus is the understanding that the wellbeing of the group is more important than the potentially self-centered concerns of the individual. This practice has worked well for the five decades of the party’s operation, exemplifying a concept of “winning” which does not involve competition and values the well-being of community above all.

However, we are no longer in those times and can no longer function on the basis of assumptions and trust established in the past. Thus the need for us to adopt a Code of Conduct and formalizing Protocols for Decision-making by Consensus.

The following document, developed by other groups has been offered to guide these protocols.

Conditional Consensus
Decisions will be made by consensus with one exception; if and when an individual repeatedly blocks group decisions and/or demonstrates an inability to collaborate.

Consensus holds that each individual opinion is as important as that of the group. This is reflected by each member having the power to block a decision. Decision making by consensus necessitates that:
1) the group is willing to shape the decision until it is fully synthesized to reflect perspectives of all members,
2) each individual understands the level of responsibility inherent in being recognized as being as important as the group itself. This is the responsibility to hold the group’s needs, desires, and principles, paramount.

Blocking consensus can not be taken lightly. Repeated consensus blocking, without regard to the significance of this act upon community, could indicate that one’s values are not compatible with those of the group, or that one is not able to function collaboratively.

In such a situation, a decision can be made by Conditional Consensus, consensus-minus-two-votes; that of the person who seeks to block consensus and one other person in the group.

A member who repeatedly blocks consensus may be asked to give up their role in the decision making process, or, in an extreme case, be asked to leave the group.

It is noted that dissidence within the decision-making process is not synonymous with inability to collaborate. Rather, it is represents a principled position held by an individual who is aligned with the core values of the decision-making group, having developed a deep understanding of these, preferably over time.

It is necessary to distinguish between an inability to collaborate and expression of sincere dissent.

In either case deliberation and careful consideration must be undertaken by the group in determining the appropriate response or action.