The Primes by Chris McGoff


Today’s Prime is number 8 – Consensus.

Basically Chris Mc Goff’s Prime on consensus says that people don’t need to agree on everything.  It is not important that everyone support every initiative.  It is however important the they feel the process was fair and that their input or concerns were heard.  When Carol and I used to teach at the U of L we taught a five-finger consensus model.  If you made a fist then it was a no go and a ONE fist in a group, no matter what size meant that the project or idea had failed.  A one finger vote meant you still had reservations.  A two finger vote said you were not violently opposed but not willing to support yet.  Three fingers meant you were okay with it.  Four meant you might even help with the project and five meant you were all in.  this kind of system was very effective in having people make important decisions TOGETHER.  Not everyone is a five-finger voter but if you can agree that if everyone gets to three through open dialogue and addressing the concerns that would keep them from getting to three then you have something with enough support to move forward.  Clear definitions about what each vote means are crucial and time to deal with resistance is also crucial.

Once we moved to stop lights – one red light shut down the project.  One yellow meant more discussion and Greens where a Go sign.  The key to this idea of consensus and what makes it consensual is that “the process was explicit, rational and fair” according to Mc Goff.  Using this system people feel as if their input is heard and that they are treated well in the process and so they can live with the outcome and are committed to supporting the outcomes with their stated reservations.  Consensus does not mean everyone agrees with everything but the process allows for the reservations to be put on the table and examined BEFORE the project goes forward so that the project begins in an informed manner.  When there is no consensus building at the beginning of a project then the reservations come up “out of the blue” and people are surprised and they could jeopardize the project. So the process of building consensus is important AND you can use the PULSE Frame to do it.

Just a note to everyone who reads these to say good morning. I am still working with The Primes. Today the one that struck me was number 3 Breach. It is about integrity and about the difference between what you say you will do and what you actually do. when people take the time to point that out to you it is because they expect you to stay in integrity .
How consistent are you about keeping promises and acting in a way that honours your commitments? For me it is a work in progress. With friends that remind me I do much better. Invite your friends into the breach prime.

What else could I be doing?  That is a question I often ask myself and one that I would encourage all of you to consider as you work your way through the lazy days of summer.

I could be doing many other things I suppose, but what I enjoy most is working with people, giving them a new perspective on old issues and moving them to a different future than they may have had if I had not asked them to consider some tough questions about themselves and their situation.  I am a question asker and I like that role.

The question today is related to Chris McGoff’s “the Primes”.  Prime 10 is called Culture.  It  states that every group divides the behaviours it will tolerate from those it will not.  So true.  Looking at culture this way makes the distinctions from one culture to another quite evident and easier to identify.  This idea will definitely help me as I continue to identify the cultures of the BEACHs.  I suspect it will help you too if you think about where you work or live and what is and is not acceptable.

In your personal culture this question becomes important.  What will you tolerate and what will you not tolerate.? I think for many the line moves as our own sense of what is right and wrong, what is ethical or not and what is acceptable to each of use is tested daily.  Our world, our environment and our limits for what we can tolerate and what we won’t define us and help us to understand why we do what we do.

What defines the limits of your personal culture, your group cultures, your family culture and where do you begin to feel uncomfortable?  Even more interesting and important to me is how does your “toleration” line shift?  What can happen to move something from tolerable to not, thus shifting your culture?  I would like to know more about that.

Things that make you go “Hmmmm….”

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