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Building Consensus

Building consensus in a co-operative business can be important for its sustainability, especially in the early development. Encouraging people to participate in a co-operative’s decision making process is a good method of building engagement and buy-in. Often, facilitated meetings are the default method of getting information and input from a group. But exploring other methods, such as a dotmocracy exercise, may be more engaging and fun for participants.

While this type of decision making will not work for all decisions, it’s important to recognize when more streamlined approaches are needed.  When deciding on core values, mission statements, or the name of a co-operative, inclusive, active and engaging exercises, like the one below, work well . Check out the dotmocracy activity below.

Naming a co-operative – Dotmocracy exercise

What you’ll need:

  • Whiteboard/flipchart
  • Writing materials
  • Sticky notes (medium-large)
  • Small stickers (dot size)
  • Energetic participants with lots of ideas

How to do the exercise:

  • Explain the purpose of the exercise (in this case, to decide on a name for the co-operative).
  • Encourage those present to come up with 1-3 potential names for the co-op.
  • Place all the suggestions on a board where everyone can see them.
  • Give participants one dot (sticker) and have them place the sticker on their favourite suggested name (hopefully everyone will not choose their own suggestion).
  • Keep the 5 highest scoring suggestions and have the group vote again.
  • If there is a clear winner, select that as a working name and discuss it with the group.
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