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Get Involved: Decision Making

Decision Making

By Alison Rogers, Executive Member EcoNetwork Port Stephens.

Some of the ways the United Nations adopt decisions include by vote, without a vote or by consensus. We can only imagine how hard it must be to facilitate the members of the United Nations to agree on a certain text or adoption of a position. However, most people facilitating a community group can easily relate to these circumstances and may feel like they need the skills of a multilateral diplomat to enact a decision-making process with their co-workers.

Adopting a decision without a vote means nobody has any objections. Adopting a decision by vote and everyone votes in favour, means the decision is unanimous. To find creative, inclusive and dynamic ways of reaching agreement, adopting a decision by consensus is when the diplomacy comes in to play.

A group that only ever comes to a decision based on most of the group getting their way can stifle different perspectives, prevent people from sharing their ideas and block creative ways of approaching challenges. Instead, finding creative and inclusive ways of reaching agreement can help to ensure that all opinions, concerns and ideas are considered.

Working towards consensus means not proceeding if a decision goes against the will of an individual or a minority of group members. In practice, this means not deciding until the concerns of everyone in the group are addressed and they agree that the issue can be resolved.

The basic steps in the consensus process may include:

  • Step 1: Introduce and clarify the issue
  • Step 2: Open out the discussion
  • Step 3: Explore ideas in a broad discussion
  • Step 4: Form a proposal
  • Step 5: Amend the proposal
  • Step 6: Test for agreement
  • Step 7: Work out how to implement the decision

Reaching consensus may be a step towards helping group members take more control and ensure the power is shared more equitably.

If you have enjoyed this segment of Get Involved keep an eye out for next month’s topic ‘Dealing with conflict.’ Send comments, feedback or ideas for new topics to

References and further reading:

Published: 13 Aug 2022