Info on Stand-Asides and Blocks

Process 2002-04-01


Explanation of what stand asides and blocks are and how they are used.


The stages of consensus decision making are introduction, discussion, and decision. The introduction of a proposal or course of action focuses only on questions about its content and not on its merits. Once these factual questions are taken care of, the discussion of the proposal can begin. This should start with a discussion of the broad principles behind the idea in order to clarify what is being proposed. Next the group should discuss and try to resolve any concerns they may have about the proposal. Agreements should be collected along the way as concerns are raised and the group figures out how to deal with them. Finally, the facilitator should see if it is time to make a decision by testing for consensus. In the consensus process, no votes are taken. As the group arrives at the point of decision, each participant has three options: to block, to stand aside, or to give consent.

When a participant wishes to block, this prevents the decision from going forward for the time being. Blocking is a serious step and should only be taken when the participant genuinely believes that the pending proposal, if adopted, would violate the morals, ethics or safety of the whole group. When people elect to block a proposal, they are asked to explain their reasons. If possible, the group tries to resolve the concerns. If the person does not remove his or her block, the decision does not go forward.

If there are no blocks or blocks have been resolved, the group is then asked if anyone wishes to stand aside. A person stands aside when he or she cannot personally support the proposal but feels that it would be acceptable for the rest of the group to adopt it. This is a stance of principled nonparticipation and absolves this person from any responsibility for implementing the decision in question. The names of those standing aside are recorded in the minutes. If there are more than a few stand asides, more work is needed and consensus has not been reached.

If there are no blocks and not too many stand asides, the facilitator will state "We have consensus." To give consent does not necessarily mean that every participant is in total agreement with every aspect of the proposal. It does mean that each person is willing to support the decision and stand in solidarity with the group despite whatever disagreements, if any, they may have.


Was not a proposal, is just info.