Consent vs. Consensus

We are all familiar with consensus decision-making. Reaching consensus means we keep talking until everyone is in agreement. Although this process can lead to higher levels of buy-in, it often results in “watered-down” solutions and lengthy and/or repeated conversations. Consensus decision-making favours harmony over speed.

Consent-based decision-making is different. It’s used to make decisions that are “good enough for now and safe enough to try.” The GDM process is based on consent not consensus, meaning that we can only object to a proposed decision if we believe the decision introduces risk or a backward movement to the organisation/initiative. It requires participants to “let go” of other potentially better ideas and fears of future issues that arise. “Good enough for now and safe enough to try” is rooted in an agile philosophy which encourages rapid execution, learning and iteration over perfection. There will be ample opportunity to inject new ideas and react to future issues moving forward. The Consent decision-making favours speed and iteration over perfection.