L’art d’établir des consensus au conseil d’administration | En rappel

Je vous invite à prendre connaissance de la lettre informative (Newsletter) du mois d’août 2014 de la firme de consultation The Brown Governance intitulée Consensus and Dissent.

Les auteurs traitent de la pratique de la décision par consensus, un sujet vraiment crucial pour la bonne gestion d’un conseil d’administration.

Voici un extrait de cette lettre. Vous pouvez vous inscrire par la recevoir à chaque mois.

Également, sur le site de Brown Governance, vous pourrez visionner une vidéo de David Brown qui explique la mécanique des huis clos afin d’éviter que ceux-ci traînent en longueur.

 Brown Governance

Building Consensus by Addressing the Roots of Dissent

Boards today often strive to make decisions by consensus, which is both healthy and sustainable compared to forced votes; how to build consensus while honouring dissent is the subject of this Brown Governance newsletter.  How Boards deal with dissent is one of the biggest changes in boardroom governance in the past generation – instead of ignoring, discouraging or quashing dissent, high performance boards seek to understand and deal with dissent.  Here we will explore the typical roots of dissent as a tool to help Chairs and Board members to understand, identify and so address dissent more effectively:

  1. Information gap
  2. Knowledge gap
  3. Direction gap
  4. Strategy gap
  5. Political gap
  6. Personal gap


What is Consensus anyway?

Consensus does not necessarily mean unanimity.  Consensus means reaching a point that different viewpoints have been listened to, and no one is going to stand in the way of us moving forward.  Everyone “consents” to move forward, not necessarily everyone in agreement with the specific direction. “Consensus” comes from the Latin, “feeling together”.  It may be that everyone is of one accord, or it may be that dissenting views have been dealt with to the satisfaction of the dissenters: consensus means “unity not unanimity”. Consensus decision-making is a group decision-making process that seeks the consent of all participants.

Consensus may be defined professionally as an acceptable resolution, one that can be supported, even if not the « favourite » of each individual. It may seem counter intuitive that two of the most visible trends in modern governance are to strive for decision-making by consensus rather than just a majority vote, and to encourage dissent and divergent views from the one being proposed.

Yet these two potentially conflicting forces can be brought into harmony, by exploring and better understanding the root causes behind the dissenting view, and using the most effective tool to address and deal with each, to bring the dissenter into the consensus. Here is how Board and Committee Chairs and Members can use this in practice during meetings:

Have the proposed solution (e.g. strategy, decision, problem or issue) presented briefly;

Invite Board members to express any additional or different perspectives;

Once these divergent views have been expressed, move on to convergent thinking (consensus building) by exploring the root causes of each divergent view (the Chair may need to “name” or explicitly articulate the divergent view since the stated dissent is often not the underlying cause), and proposing that each be dealt with based on addressing its root, including amending and revising the proposed solution;

Probe and test for consensus: do we have consent to move forward on this path?

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