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Consensus Through Conversation: How to Achieve High-Commitment Decisions Paperback – November 1, 2006


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Consensus Through Conversation: How to Achieve High-Commitment Decisions + Consensus Organizing:  A Community Development Workbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Designing, Implementing, and Evaluating Community Change Initiatives
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 89 pages
  • Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers (November 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1576754197
  • ISBN-13: 978-1576754191
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.1 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,001,119 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Larry Dressler has created a brilliant work...a must read for any manager that wants meaningful decisions in their organization." -- Mike Ferretti, CEO, Great Harvest Bread Company

About the Author

Larry Dressler has, for over 15 years, designed and facilitated high stakes meetings in large corporations like Mitsubishi, Nissan, and Starbucks. He has also assisted in important community deliberations involving diverse stakeholders: farm workers in Washington state, homeless artisans on Skid Row in LA, and indigenous leaders in the Ecuadorian Amazon

More About the Author

Larry Dressler has dedicated most of his life to understanding how people work out their differences, discover common ground, and mobilize collective action. As a young boy he attended schools where bullying, gang conflict, and violence were everyday occurrences. From an early age he learned to navigate the hallways and the larger world by deciphering subtle social dynamics and building resilient relationships. Over the years a central questions emerged for Larry: What are the human qualities that enable one to bring peace, clarity, and hopefulness into situations that are filled with conflict, confusion, and despair?

Larry continues to embrace this question as a widely recognized organizational development consultant and process facilitator. He has consulted with hundreds of organizations, including Cisco Systems, Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Baxter Healthcare, New Belgium Brewing, Starbucks, Nissan Motors, and 1% for the Planet. His extraordinary skill and presence as a "gentle instigator of breakthrough conversations" have brought him to such diverse settings as the headquarters of companies in 30 industries, a circus school in Colorado, and a solar-powered chocolate factory in the Amazon rainforest.

Today Larry spends his time helping leaders convene "think tanks" and "action learning experiences" aimed at fostering a more just society, restoring the natural environment, and creating a vibrant economy. He also delivers keynotes and leadership development seminars all over the world on Standing in the Fire™ and Fierce Conversations™.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Sherri Cannon on November 11, 2006
Format: Paperback
First, compliments to Dressler for successfully resisting the temptation to unnecessarily 'inflate' the size of this book. As a result, Consensus through Conversation is digestible during a reasonable length plane flight. What makes it worthwhile to read on your NEXT plane trip is this: unlike many authors who are intellectually sound but lack "on the ground" skills, Dressler is different. He knows how to bring about sustainable improvement in organizational productivity. Even better, he knows how to TEACH others to do the same. That's what this book does--illustrates WHY real conversation is essential to affect lasting change. And then, takes us from ivory tower to ground level by producing a tool box of diagrams, tips, do's & don'ts, and straight talk. If every author packed this much value into 77 pages, we would all spend more time IMPROVING our organizations than reading about it. Thanks for raising the bar, Larry.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By H. Scogin on November 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
I began this book with a healthy dose of skepticism. On more than one occasion I've been involved in "consensus" decision-making processes that were less than stellar. (As an employee, a board member, a community member and business owner.) In the hands of an unskilled, or manipulative, or misguided (or worse, downright deceitful) facilitator a so-called consensus decision-making process can leave you feeling like your pocket has been picked. You know exactly what I mean. When you finish the "process" and feel like you've been hoodwinked into agreeing to something because:

- You didn't fully understand the scope of the issue you are supposed to be dealing with.
- People with important information about the issue weren't in the room.
- A manager who is worried about his ox getting gored has set the whole thing up to "share the blame" for some no-win problem he doesn't know how to solve.
- You could never get a word in edgewise after your first stated concern stamped you as "not a team player."
- And it was clear the boss wasn't going to go along with the decision the group made anyway!

Well, the author not only educated me about what real consensus looks like, I feel like I've been inoculated against the toxic variety. The book, as mentioned in another review, is lean and mean. But there is plenty of substance to chew on, including:

- A useful comparison of different decision making methods, along with their strengths and weaknesses.
- A clear explanation of the considerable power of a consensus process. (Not the least of which is accelerated implementation of a decision.)
- Succinct guidelines on how to start a consensus meeting off on the right foot.
Read more ›
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sharon in Seattle on November 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
As a medical practice administrator, I found the approach described in Dressler's book as practical and an approach I intend to use for a tough decision I am struggling with, and wondering not just "what's the answer", but "how do we decide between a number of less than ideal choices with big impacts - - and are we exploring the full universe of options?". I am excited about implementing Dressler's approach; I believe its clarity and inclusiveness will not only produce a high quality decision, but will generate benefits well beyond the decision itself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Drew Kugler on November 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
Working in and with groups and, at the same time, making progress can be an incredibly complex experience. This book, though it demands a disciplined and thoughtful effort, will make a profound difference by its use. Having seen the principles of this work in action, groups are healthier and far more productive toward their charter. Members discover the patience to listen and the courage to contribute to others; results that make choosing this path quite worthy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Deborah L. Silver on November 22, 2006
Format: Paperback
As a consultant who works with coalitions and partnerships of people from different organizations and community sectors, I am very appreciative of the systematic approach Dressler provides for achieving consensus in decision-making. It is important that groups feel that the process they engage in to think through problems and make decisions is inclusive of the diversity of perspectives in the room, and is also effective at achieving results that facilitate progress. This book provides the framework and methodology to produce both those outcomes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Richard Kramer on November 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
Effective, collaborative decision making practices are key in supporting organization effectiveness. Larry Dressler is an expert facilitator. He has successfully translated his art into clearly articulated strategy, highlighting the dimension of consensus decision making. This book is focused, clearly written, and a very quick read. It will be a great resource as facilitators refer back to the book for assistance. Wonderful work communicating the balance of art and science in group process!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ayn Fox on November 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
For anyone convening a meeting - this is the perfect book to read in preparation. Great reminders and insights on how to create a safe place for inquiry and creativity as well as thoughtful decisions. I found tips on ways to prevent and intervene when challenges to consensus arise particularly useful. I love how it is organized and it is the perfect size for 2 hour airplane trips.
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