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Consensus process, by definition, seeks the maximum possible levels of agreement or consent.Thus, if a group using a majority vote decision rule is dominated by a majority faction that does not seek the agreement of all participants, the process would not be considered "consensus." Regardless of the decision rule, the process is only "consensus" if it has embodied the value of striving for full agreement or consent.It is used to describe both the decision and the process of reaching a decision.Consensus decision-making is thus concerned with the process of deliberating and finalizing a decision, and the social, economic, legal, environmental and political effects of applying this process.Sometimes the outcomes of consensus can be contrary to majority.To ensure the agreement or consent of all participants is valued, many groups choose unanimity or near-unanimity as their decision rule.These dynamics may harm group member relationships and undermine the ability of a group to cooperatively implement a contentious decision.Consensus decision-making attempts to address the beliefs of such problems.
Healthy consensus decision-making processes usually encourage expression of dissent early, maximizing the chance of accommodating the views of all minorities.
Robert's Rules of Order, for instance, is a guide book used by many organizations.
This book allows the structuring of debate and passage of proposals that can be approved through majority vote. Critics of such a process believe that it can involve adversarial debate and the formation of competing factions.
Giving consent does not necessarily mean that the proposal being considered is one’s first choice.
Group members can vote their consent to a proposal because they choose to cooperate with the direction of the group, rather than insist on their personal preference.
Proper guidelines for the use of this option, however, are important.