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RE: [wg-d] What our product should resemble
Quite some years ago, when I was learning about different management
techniques used by different cultures, I was given a definition of consensus
that was quite meaningful, precise and useful.
Consensus -is- unanimity. Unanimity of a special kind, perhaps, but there is
no minority opinion or expression of dissent when a group has achieved true
consensus. That does not mean that all the participants agree with the
position taken by the group, only that they are willing to set aside their
differences and *present a common front for the good of the group*.
This is very important - to achieve consensus participants must be willing
to subsume their individual interests and opinions to that of the group.
This is not normal behavior in most Western cultures :-). If for some reason
a participant continues to express dissent, the group does *not* have
consensus. Even in cultures that encourage this kink of behavior, such as
the Japanese, it can take a loooooong time to get to consensus on a
Relatively recently I've come across the term 'rough consensus', which I
found interesting, as it is an essentially meaningless term that could be
used to describe everything from majority rule to a jerkocracy where the
most dominant and belligerent in a group wins.
Now, with pop culture being what it is, the term consensus is bandied around
by all sorts of people who don't have even the slightest interest in what
the term means, but use it because they think it makes them sound like
people they want to associate with. In other words, it's part of fashion
Let's do ourselves and everyone else a favor, and stay away from terms that
mean different things (or nothing) to different people, and try and get some
precision into the process.
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]On Behalf Of Mark
Sent: Thursday, August 26, 1999 2:38 PM
Subject: [wg-d] What our product should resemble
Here's a brief sketch of what any product of this group should look
The process should be streamlined. Relatively short and easy to follow.
The process should be fair and balanced, allowing no one interest an
undue influence over any other, from the perspective of the process itself.
The process should be inclusive, providing some mechanism that ensures
participation from all interests.
The process should be accountable. There should be some way to accurately
determine consensus or lack thereof, and the demographics of that
The process should be swift, providing a means by which we can quickly
arrive at consensus while not sacrifing speed for breadth or depth.
The process should provide a means of determining a clear goal for the
The process should balance the powers of the chairs against the powers of
I'd like to mention that I use the word consensus here. I use it to
mean some sizeable majority of the participants. The issue I believe
is not what is meant by the word, but the process by which its
existence is determined.
Mark C. Langston LATEST: ICANN refuses Let your voice be heard:
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