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Where is consensus valuable and where does it kill great product development? 

Understanding the Dynamics of Consensus 🤔 

The question of where consensus is valuable and where it impedes product development is a nuanced one. At its core, consensus means a general agreement among a group, but the journey towards that agreement can either drive success or lead to stagnation. 

An Exploration into Consensus 

Consensus: a word that implies harmony, agreement, and collaboration 🤝. In the realm of product development, it’s a critical and complex component that can either make or break a project 💔.  

How do we strike the right balance?  

Let’s delve into this fascinating subject 🕵️‍♂️. 

Defining Consensus: More Than Just Agreement 

Understanding consensus is essential before dissecting its role in product development 👀.  

Let’s take a closer look at what consensus really means. 

  • General Agreement: Consensus isn’t about everyone thinking alike but about finding a common ground that everyone can support 🌱. 
  • Entrepreneurial Mindset: Entrepreneurs often accept higher risks, making decisions based on experience and data, even when the likelihood of failure is high 🎲. 

The Product Owner’s Dilemma: Decision-Making in Volatile Markets 

Product owners, akin to mini-CEOs, navigate volatile markets and must decide when to use consensus 💼. This decision-making journey is fraught with challenges and opportunities. 🌟 

  • Dynamic Markets: Fast-paced and changing, markets require swift and sometimes unilateral decisions 🏃‍♀️. 
  • Risk Appetite: Entrepreneurs accept risks beyond the conventional 70% success metric. They seize opportunities, often relying on instinct and experience 🦸‍♂️. 

Balancing Act: Consensus vs. Quick Decisions 

The path of product development is a tightrope walk 🎪. Striking a balance between collective agreement and swift, intuitive decision-making can be the key to success 🔑. 

  • Consensus through Leadership: CEOs or product owners garner support through trust and a vision that others can believe in 🙌. 
  • Consensus through Collaboration: On a micro level, teams must find agreement through discussion and convergence of ideas 💬. 

The Facilitation Journey: From Idea Generation to Consensus 

The process of facilitating consensus is akin to navigating a ship through turbulent waters 🚢.  

How do we ensure that the ship reaches its destination intact? 

  • Expanding Ideas: Initially, a plethora of ideas are generated, creating a vast ocean of possibilities 🌊. 
  • Convergence: The challenge is to steer these ideas toward a single point of consensus, ensuring everyone is onboard 🧭. 
  • Avoiding the Death March: Ensuring everyone believes in the project avoids scenarios where projects are doomed to fail from the outset ☠️. 

The Importance of Building Trust: A Foundation for Consensus 

Building trust is an integral part of gaining consensus 💖.  

How is this trust built, and how does it facilitate decision-making? 

  • Credibility through Success: By proving that your decisions lead to positive outcomes, you build trust and create an environment conducive to consensus 🏆. 
  • Inclusive Decision Making: Including everyone in the decision-making process ensures that even if an idea isn’t universally accepted, the consensus can still be achieved 🌐. 

How-to Advice: Building Consensus, the Right Way 

Achieving consensus effectively requires tools, techniques, and a nuanced approach 🔧.  

Let’s explore some recommendations. 

  • Recommended Reading – “Never Split the Difference”: This book provides insights into negotiation and consensus building, applicable in diverse scenarios from hostage negotiation to bedtime discussions with kids 📚. 
  • Facilitation Techniques: Techniques to navigate through the “groan zone” of disagreement can be critical 🛠️. 
  • Thinking in Bets: Accepting that decisions are made with incomplete information, akin to playing poker, is vital 🃏. 

The Imperative Nature of Consensus 

As we reflect on the journey through consensus in product development, it’s clear that it is not just a desirable element but an imperative one 🌟. 

  • Varied Routes to Consensus: Whether through leadership or collaboration, consensus is crucial 🗺️. 
  • Adapting to Circumstances: Recognizing when to seek consensus and when to make a decision is an art and science, contributing to the successful evolution of a product 🎨🔬. 

In conclusion, consensus, while always valuable, manifests differently depending on circumstances. Embracing this complexity can lead to richer, more nuanced product development 💡. 


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