Achieving Consensus

People in teams, from senior leadership down to tech and product teams, often believe that they are aligned around a particular direction and certainly usually aspire to be aligned.  But actually achieving real consensus is hard.  Here are some tips for getting there.

  • Get people in a room talking – don’t try to achieve consensus via email or networking tools

  • Commence the process by framing the topic and focus the discussion to ensure the group does not get side-tracked.

  • Get everyone to explain what they believe the strategy or direction to be, and get specific.  It’s easy for a group to sound aligned while the discussion is at a high-level but explaining what is actually meant can unearth differing interpretations

  • Identify underlying concerns and make sure everyone has the opportunity to speak

  • Distil the points on which the group agrees and isolate the outstanding concerns for further discussion and agreement – choose a direction

  • Play back to people what they have said and seek clarification that this is actually what was meant

  • Write points down in the session on a whiteboard and get the group to agree that this is what was meant – this often leads to further discussion and clarification

  • Send round a communication after the session confirming what was agreed, and if possible do a face-to-face communication to explain it to the wider organisation

  • Use the set of agreements in follow-up meetings and keep reinforcing what was agreed

If you need help in formulating a direction and getting consensus, please contact