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The Consensus Conference Approach: When Consensus Building is the Goal

In today’s business environment, management consulting firms must be ready to address client challenges and needs that will transform their business by 10 or 100 times. Tools and methods must be scaled up to ensure applicability to the widest possible audience globally.

The Consulting Workshop Series provides a good understanding of the 10 Methods of conducting Workshops that are custom designed to fit specific workshop objectives. Different methods are developed for the purpose of providing organizations the most appropriate tool necessary to support organizations to achieve their strategic goals and targets.

If it is the management’s goal to generate consensus and options regarding a controversial topic or issue, then the Consensus Conference is the most appropriate method to undertake.

Understanding the Consensus Conference

Consensus Conference is a 3-day intensive program that provides a vehicle for organizations to meaningfully influence policy decisions. Strategically, its application spans a broad range of uses.  It can be used in the development of new regulations, generating new debate and understanding, consolidating politics, building bridges between interest groups and perspectives, and removing organizational silos.

Consensus Conference is also useful for combining many forms of knowledge and a method for obtaining informed opinions.  Interestingly, the Consensus Conference provides a vehicle for organizations to meaningfully influence policy decisions, conflict assessment, clarification of attitudes, and assessing the relevance of an issue.

Approach to Consensus Conference

The Consensus Conference starts with Planning and the Recruitment & Selection of Panel. Thereafter, significant issues relevant to the topic of concern are discovered, drawn, and documented during the first 2 weekends prior to the Consensus Conference.

  1. Planning. The primary objective of the Planning stage is to determine the Management Staff and Advisory Committee. This also includes defining the scope, topic, and allocating budget.
  1. Recruitment & Selection of Panel. At this stage, the planning team starts screening and onboarding members of the Panel. Potential members of the Panel are qualified in accordance with established criteria.
  1. First Study Weekend. The First Study Weekend is the start of a steep learning curve for the members of the Panel. It is the beginning of relationship building between the Project Management Team, the Facilitator, and the Panelists.
  1. Second Study Weekend. The Second Study Weekend takes on the agenda planned by the Panel during the First Study Weekend. At this stage, there is further development of competence for the final week and shifting of control of the process decisions and facilitation to the Panel.
  1. Consensus Conference. The main event, the Consensus Conference provides the avenue for discussion on topics and issues of great importance and impact to the organization. Its primary objective is to influence policy decisions and assess the relevance of issues undertaken.
  1. Dissemination and Evaluation. One month after the Consensus Conference, a Final Report is prepared and disseminated to policy-makers, departments, and individuals in the organization. A debriefing is conducted 1 to 2 months after the conference. An evaluation is conducted 1 to 12 months after the conduct of the Consensus Conference.

Conducting a Consensus Conference is intensive. Hence, it is necessary to gain mastery of the approach to allow organizations to effectively use Consensus Conference as a tool for assessing an identified critical topic.

Interested in gaining more understanding of the Consensus Conference? Learn more and download an editable PowerPoint about Consulting Workshop Series: Consensus Conference here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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About Joseph Robinson

Joseph Robinson is the Vice President of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is the marketplace for best practices in business management. Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. The documents at Flevy (https://flevy.com) are of the same caliber as those produced by top-tier management consulting firms, like McKinsey, BCG, Bain, and Accenture. Most were developed by seasoned executives and consultants with 20+ years of experience. Flevy covers 200+ management topics, ranging from Digital Transformation to Growth Strategy to Lean Management. You can peruse a full list of management topics available on Flevy here. Prior to Flevy, Joseph worked as an Associate at BCG and holds an MBA from the Sloan School of Management at MIT. You can connect with Joseph on LinkedIn here.

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