I’ve been in many, many team working workshops – either as participant or facilitator – and one of the common areas covered in just about all of them was the importance of reaching consensus when making significant decisions.
In business there’s often pressure to make decisions quickly, and reaching an agreement between all parties takes time, so there’s always a push back from the workshop participants when reaching consensus is advised. ‘But voting is so much quicker & clearer’, the participants say, ‘why not just do that & move on?’
I think that 2 recent votes are giving excellent examples why voting should be avoided where possible in everyday life. The EU referendum has drawn a stark divide through the UK that will take a long time to heal, even after the immediate emotional reactions die down. It could be argued that just how long that time might be, and how difficult it can be to move forward, is being shown by the current trouble in the Labour Party.
Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party by the party’s members by a massive margin in September 2015, but it’s been widely reported that the result has never been accepted by a significant proportion of the Party’s MP’s. It looks like this rift in the Party hasn’t healed in the last 9 months, and, from the outside looking in, it seems that the referendum result has been a trigger that has brought the whole thing to a head, leading to the mass resignations of the Shadow Cabinet this weekend.
So, if you are in a team at the moment that needs to make a significant decision it’s worthwhile chatting through these 2 examples with your teammates to help them see the benefits of consensus. Voting might seem an expedient way ahead, but you’re probably just storing up trouble for later.