Consensus Workshop Method
The Origin of Consensus Workshop Method
Consensus workshop method is one of the methods in the Technology of Participation (ToPTM). It was originated by the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA) in the 1960-1970’s in a research process taking brainstorming (Alex Osborn) methodology and the Delphi Process (Olaf Helmer & Norman Dalkey) one step further with gestalting (Jean Piaget). The results were very wonderfully impressive and so on training programs were developed and the method was spread to more than 30 countries in the world.


Benefits of the Method
Consensus workshop can be simple or complex. It may be as simple as a project team’s brainstorm of the tasks that need to be done that week. Or it may be used in a planning process to transform a company. It is a effective method to build consensus in groups and teams. The whole picture of any topics that a group is focusing on could be revealed after the consensus workshop process.


Effective Structure in Evoking Participation
Through making the topic into a clearly stated focused question, the group could come at it with facilitator’s help through brainstorming, sharing, assemble ideas and plenary discussion ideas are weaved into consensus step by step. This process was designed so that the group was able to think from multiple perspectives and was able to emerge valuable thoughts through discussion. Each step has a clear focus so the participants are on the same page. In comparison to traditional large group discussion method, this saves a lot of time.


How does Consensus Workshop flow?
There are 5 major steps:
1. Contexting: Introduce what the group needs to know to begin the workshop process. Bring in the workshop topic with background info.
2. Brainstorming: Invoke individual thoughts and group sharing to screen out valuable ideas
3. Organizing: Present results from small group work and categorize the ideas into different categories.
4. Naming: A dialogue of what the ideas are pointing out at a deeper level in answer to the focus question. This steps is the major place where consensus takes place
5. Deciding Meaning: Interpret the consensus of the whole workshop and discussion of the implication in the future for the group.