Talk: Making Consensus Without Losing Your Mind
Group decision making can be a soul-sucking experience. Too often the loudest person’s ideas dominate. The group can splinter into coalitions. Disagreements on the matters at hand can become personal and battles of will can eclipse questions that would be much better settled through rational discourse. The pursuit of a win-win turns much too frequently into a lose-lose where everyone agrees to some sub-optimal middle ground just to end the misery. On the flip side, both the process and the outcome of a respectful and creative consensus-building process can be extremely satisfying. It can build relationships and restore faith in humanity. But what’s the secret sauce? Is it personality? Great leadership? Sufficient resources? Certainly all of that helps, but building consensus is a lot less sexy. Like most things, it is a learned art. You need a good theory, a solid model, and some practical techniques and voilà! You can get agreements that are fair, efficient, stable, and wise.
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Presenter: Carri Hulet
Carri Hulet is a trainer, mediator and facilitator with The Consensus Building Institute, based in Cambridge. She has been with CBI since 2011 and currently leads CBI’s Women and Consensus Building initiative – a broad-based effort to train women to be more effective negotiators and to improve gender dynamics in collaborative settings. As a Senior Associate at CBI, Carri focuses much of her work on environmental issues related to climate change, energy, water, and transportation. She has facilitated groups working to resolve wastewater disputes on Cape Cod, transit issues in Greater Boston, stormwater and agricultural concerns in Northern Utah; and land use concerns in Ohio. She has written several conflict and situation assessments, including a review of national water policy programs in India, Mexico, and South Africa and helped a number of organizations develop strategic plans. Carri has a masters degree in urban planning from MIT, and a bachelors from Tufts University in political science. Carri comes from a large family and recently survived organizing the family reunion – one of her most challenging collaborative projects yet. She has a great husband and a delicious baby daughter.