There is always tremendous potential
for people to work together well.
All we need is a process
that is both participatory and effective.
Making decisions together is a vital part of almost any group. We may come
together to form a family, to connect recreationally, to operate a business or
nonprofit organization or to collaborate in some form of community project
or governance. Whatever the reason for gathering, a group must somehow
make decisions. These decisions determine how it will accomplish its
goals. So the effectiveness of any group rests upon its ability to make decisions
Too often, however, a poor decision-making process spoils a group's effectiveness.
Unconscious patterns of exclusion, domination, apathy, manipulation,
passive coercion or other problematic behaviors often emerge.
The decisions the group makes suffer, as does the group's enjoyment of the
Fortunately, the art of guiding groups through decision-making has made
great progress over the past several decades. There are now ways to make
decisions in groups that are both efficient and enjoyable for all participants.
The Consensus-Oriented Decision-Making model (CODM) incorporates
these advances into a simple, stepwise model. Work groups, organizations,
social groups and even families can employ this model and reap the rewards
that effective group cooperation can bring.
CODM combines the two goals of maximum participation and maximum
efficiency. Group members can use this process to come up with better
solutions than any individual group member could have formulated. And
they can do it in a way that respects and includes everyone in the group.
Increased collaboration gives participants an increased sense of ownership
and a stronger commitment to effective implementation. Group members
both feel good that their needs were included in the decision, and they feel
a stronger investment in helping ensure the success of the decision. At the
same time, however, CODM recognizes that groups need to be able to produce
decisions efficiently, so as not to burden the members with long meetings
or stagnant progress on popular ideas.
CODM was developed through years of personal and professional experience
facilitating groups. It is based on the most successful principles
and practices from the field of professional group facilitation. In addition,
it draws powerful contributions from the fields of mediation and interpersonal
communication. Combining the best thinking from these three
different fields means CODM can help a group make better decisions in a
way that simultaneously helps the group itself grow closer, stronger and
The CODM process can be used to generate widespread agreement in
any group. Whether decisions are finalized by unanimous consent, by a vote
or by the ruling of a person-in-charge, CODM can assist the process and
improve the result. This flexibility makes CODM applicable in both hierarchical
and egalitarian organizations. Whenever widespread agreement is
the goal, CODM can be used to reach for it.