Consent-based Decision-Making

“A consent-based approach to group decision-making is best when “the decision needs to be made quickly, a proposal is clearly defined, and the impact is limited and able to be reversed.”

Summary:

The ability to make clear and wise decisions as a network is vitally important. Two top forms of decision-making are decision-making by consensus or by majority vote. While both strategies can be effective in a network context, a better way to approach decision-making is to match your approach to decision-making with the kind of decision your network needs to make.

If the decision affects the whole network and is not easily reversed then a consensus-based approach may be what is needed. On the other hand, if a decision needs to be made quickly and doesn’t carry a lot of risk or controversy, then a majority vote after discussion may be fine.

A Third Approach:

A third approach is called consent-based decision-making. This approach is useful when “a decision needs to be made quickly, a proposal is clearly defined, and the impact is limited and able to be reversed.” This approach to group decision-making can help a group make a decision when there is a range of opinions and complete consensus difficult.

The big idea with consent-based approaches is that everyone has a range of tolerance or comfort with a decision. The key to this approach is being able to map everyone’s range of tolerance with the decision and what aspects make it tolerable or intolerable for them. The goal with this approach is to design the best possible solution that everyone can at least agree to try. This approach can help networks move forward when consensus is unable to be attained.

Here are several useful articles on this approach:

  1. Decision-making Models – This site contains a useful table that compares different decision-making models based on a broad range of decision-making criteria such as urgency, risk, clarity, and level of trust.
  2. Decision-making by Consent – A concise description of the approach, it’s pros and cons, a process description and several traps to avoid.
  3. Consent is a Third Option – This site provides an in-depth discussion of the Consent Decision-making Model in the context of collaboration and networks.

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