Is Consensus the Answer?
Learning Forward has partnered with Fierce, Inc. to publish exclusive posts on Fierce's blog throughout the year. Stephanie Hirsh's first post on Fierce's blog appeared yesterday. Here is an excerpt:
For the past 25 years and with very few exceptions, Learning Forward's Board of Trustees has made every decision by consensus. When I share this with people, the typical reaction is shock. How in the world are they able to do that and fulfill their obligations as board members? That the board meets just twice a year and has much to accomplish in a short time frame makes it all the more surprising that they are able to reach consensus so consistently.
So how does a board arrive at consensus for 25 years? It begins with the orientation process. During their orientation, board members get a firsthand look at what it means to be a board that makes decisions by consensus.
Newly elected board members attend meetings before their official service begins. Trustee-elects are asked only to observe during these meetings, not to contribute to discussions or decision making. Incoming trustees are amazed at how skillfully all board members facilitate the consensus process amongst themselves.