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Edited: March 11, 2021 (v0.0.11)

Consensus has been important for a long time. The Greeks famously wrote about such things, and even influenced how Lamport et al. designed certain consesus algorithms such as Paxos (though some say this is purely fictional).


Consensus is an opinion or position reached by a group as a whole. Consensus is not the same thing as coalition building. In nontrivial situations, consensus is something that must be built. Like many other things that are built, scaffolding, structure, or frameworks can make us more productive.

A few notable consensus building frameworks that I’ve encountered over the years are:

Both of these resources add structure to the process of consensus building by defining vocabulary, roles, and acceptable outcomes. These things together establish ways for groups to establish agreement, denote disagreement, or block progress, in a transparent and accoutable way.

Aligning your group on a single way to build consensus will increase the rate that you can make decisions, among many other pleasant side effects.

Decision Making

There’s a limit to how many conversations a single person can participate constructively in (e.g., see Dunbar’s Number or this research). As the frameworks mentioned above suggest, assigning roles helps define “who” does “what”, but it doesn’t suggest how big or small these groups of roles should be. I won’t either… but it seems smaller groups perform better.

Role of “decision maker” should be <= 2.


  1. [1]Bain, Bain & Company, Inc, 2011 [Online]. Available at: https://www.bain.com/insights/rapid-tool-to-clarify-decision-accountability/. [Accessed: 01-Nov-2017]
  2. [2]M. W. B. Paul Rogers, Harvard Business Review, 2006 [Online]. Available at: https://hbr.org/2006/01/who-has-the-d-how-clear-decision-roles-enhance-organizational-performance. [Accessed: 01-Nov-2017]
  3. [3]“Consensus Decision Making.” Seeds For Change [Online]. Available at: https://www.seedsforchange.org.uk/shortconsensus. [Accessed: 01-Nov-2017]
  4. [4]Free Management Books [Online]. Available at: http://www.free-management-ebooks.com/news/bains-rapid-framework/. [Accessed: 01-Nov-2017]