Louis Harris facilitating
Louis Harris facilitates a session.

YB uses consensus-based decision making (CBDM) in their team building programs. Teams and organizations typically use a simple majority to make decisions, but going the extra distance to finding an actual consensus ensures buy-in from all participants. Also, CBDM guarantees that all points of view are meaningfully considered in fashioning the best path forward. The knowledge that one’s concerns were considered makes it far easier to accept outcomes that one did not initially find appealing.

Effective Facilitation is Vital

Effective CBDM requires a facilitator able to listen carefully to all discussion to pull out those ideas that are resonating. To do this, active listening is an essential skill the facilitator must have to bring out ideas from quieter participants and from people who seem to be distant. Difficult circumstances may make individuals reluctant to offer ideas.

The facilitator needs to create and preserve an open and welcoming environment. This encourages that all ideas, even those that seem far out, can be expressed without fear of ridicule or other adverse consequences. Sometimes the wildest sounding ideas resonate the most. Participants need to feel safe to express all ideas.

Preserve the Language of the Idea Maker

Ideally, brainstorming sessions allow participants to offer ideas without discussion. However, it is very common for discussion to intervene when participants seek clarification. In a well meaning attempt to refine ideas, the ensuing discussion can actually alter the basic meaning of the idea maker’s intent. To preserve brainstorming integrity, when refined ideas make it onto a flip chart, the originator of the idea should provide and approve the words.

Other Resources

YB uses CBDM in an informal team building setting. However, organizations that use a more formal decision making processes are turning toward CBDM and away from more traditional approaches that use Roberts Rules of Order. Check out these articles about CBDM.  


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