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Consensus building/dialogue

This approach is useful when there is a contentious issue or when you wish to build and improve relationships between diverse groups to reach a proactive consensus. It may incorporate a range of approaches which will have dialogue at its core. This is mainly conducted through workshops and meetings to help participants identify common ground and mutually beneficial solutions to a problem.

Dialogue involves all stakeholders which must include people who have a concern about the outcome, including decision makers and those directly affected by decisions.

It may take a long time to gain consensus.

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  • Deals well with conflict/contentious issues and can help overcome low trust;
  • Ensures a balanced approach to decision-making, allowing all voices to be heard;
  • Develops jointly-owned and implemented solutions, often preventing the need for legal challenge or litigation at a later stage;
  • Is highly flexible and can be applied at all levels;
  • Good in areas likely to be regarded as controversial or where the facts are contested. Dialogue remains one of the few practicable participative options once a conflict has reached a certain point.
  • Extremely reliant on the skills of a facilitator or mediator, this can make it expensive;
  • May also be time consuming;
  • The need to ensure participation by all significant stakeholders can slow progress or even render it impossible;
  • Ensuring communication between all parties can be challenging;
  • The final outputs may only highlight areas of agreement and not capture other parts of the picture. This is particularly problematic for organisations or individuals who hold strong views on the matter being discussed.
  • Improved relationships between participants;
  • A consensus/shared vision may be achieved;
  • Increased legitimacy for the decision making process;
  • Creative new solutions may evolve.
  • Information representative of society as a whole;
  • Quick results.

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