3 Crucial Steps for Building Consensus Rather Than Compromise

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Originally posted January 18, 2013

Picture it.

You stroll into your lead team or board meeting, looking to build consensus for your new idea.

Let’s say your dream is to launch a new Saturday night service, held twice a month, full of contemporary praise music, designed with a youth focus.

Two hours later you emerge, bewildered at what took place. Somehow your new service idea changed from Saturday to Sunday, from twice a month to twice a year, from contemporary praise to traditional hymns, and from a youth focus to a multi-generational approach.

Other than that they loved it.

What happened?

Instead of building consensus, you settled for compromise.

With consensus everyone builds positively on the idea until a grander vision is attained. Compromise, on the other hand, is a negative process of stripping the core of an idea apart until the finished product is viewed with equal ambivalence.

How can you lead your team towards consensus instead of compromise?

1.   Have the “meetings before the meeting”

Never let your key influencers hear a new idea for the first time in a group meeting. Take each one out for coffee individually and run the idea by them. Use their input to improve the idea before it gets presented.

2.   Keep the main thing, the main thing

Certain members of your team may be naturally wired to dive into detail and minutia far too soon. They might even support the goals of the initiative, but they’ll nonetheless start redesigning the plan at the first opportunity. Don’t let this happen. Keep the meeting at the 30,000 foot level.

3.   Remember that consensus is a process, not an event

Gauge the level of buy-in throughout the initial meeting. You might find that consensus is achieved very quickly and painlessly.

Or, you might find that consensus will need to be built over a period of time. If the opinions and perspectives are simply too wide spread in the first meeting for consensus to be reached simply take the conversation as far as needed, then set it aside for another day.

Let time be your ally, not your enemy.

So keep your team focused on the big picture and allow them to dream alongside you.

In the end you’ll end up not only with greater buy-in, but with a grander team vision.

How do you build consensus with your team?

 

the author

Scott Cochrane

Vice President- International, Willow Creek Association. Love Jesus, Nora, Adam & Robin, Amy, Dave & Willow and John, Fiona & Will. Lifelong learner.

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