Cat Herding – Building Consensus

From IIW

Cat Herding – Building Consensus

Tuesday 2F

Convener: Phil Wunerlich

Notes-taker(s): John Fontana

Discussion notes, key understandings, outstanding questions, observations, and, if appropriate to this discussion: action items, next steps:

Anybody who has been in org. of standards org.

To produce a report a project,

Sometimes it works

Sometimes NOT. This is most of the time.

How do yoy herd cats.

Best yo can hoppe for is to make everyone equally unhappy

God or evaution gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason.

I do want to not herd the cats here, but hear your rules of the road.


You have to start with will no do exactly what you want them to do.

The way we communicate , often people pickup their meaning and not yours

Wendall: Edmund Muskie reference.

Let people speak and be heard.

Hou hav eot let people be heard

Eve: thiat is part of Robert’s rules of order.

Majority or consenssue

What do yo prefere.

Voting is procedure to produce consensus.

Then you need


You need someone who takes responsibility for doing the driving.

It wasn’t my job to drive those things, my job was to make the group decide.

Tools and techniques for making group make a decision

on thing that I did

tow things

I did very clear lists of options to start a debate.

Let people vote on the option or no optiosn.

Or people did not want to vote, they just want a solution so they can get to there question.

The other thing was to put very clear time limits on discussions.

To drive things to a completion, give a time frame and then we will make a call.


the recognized driver has to facilitate the writing down on things.

A group does not write things. A person does, the group comments.


For some groups, lug people tend to dominate.

So chair has to make sure peole that are not loud are heard

Sometimes you can use silence to make sure you draw out people


Building alignment in advance, but if you know wher people sit already, that can help speed things up - be a facilitator.

You need the group to be diverse.

Is there wide enough support for something, or is consensus amnong all the people from certain company

??? I find having clear staremetn of work helps lwith diversity


Decision clarity is important.


For some groups, there is sunshine requiremments, all work has to hapend in group, you can’t piece things off to side-alignment

Side-alignment can be counter-productionve

Eve: corporate politics.

We are talking about individuals, but the reasosn most of this activity gets done is biz.

Biz imperatives drive who is at the table or lack of biz imperatives.

The governance model under which yo labor determines al ot of your choices.

Around governance:

There can be people who do what amounts to a Ddos attack

They flood the group with various work.

Make them go off and do the work – in writing

John W.

Rat hole diversion

Let some one propose a rat hole and ask they to explore and write it up

You get rat hole diversion

When consensus isn’t working I call for votes. I becomes a road block

How do you deal with that person when it is happening?


Consent over consensus.

It means is it OK to go one.

Everybody shows they are for it

Not against it – but want to voice….

If yo have objecdtion, you keep it , but keep it specified.

Not just objection for objection, you nedto expain and take to new level.

You can do this by hand gestures.


Knowing objections is important – if you wait you are asking for trouble.

Person 1 :

Get to beliefs of the underlying assumption.

Justin :

Can help to go balkc to clear startement of purpose.

If per son thinks ther are two ocmopetting ideas – what are you trying to solve, what is driving yo to this solution. – can’t just say I like it bedause this is my way.


Sometimes communication is broken by symantecs. What are you getting at, don’t listen to the words.

John W.

cross cultural makes this difficult, you can have a level setting session at the bginning to try to understand how people communicate.

T: in China the word privacy has a different meaning than in the US


You have to level the playing field

Couple issues I had.

All these diff levels of understandings. Who read draft, who skimmed?

Cats, some are pumas, some are kittens.

People are typically in a group representing something and they can force their will on group.

???? diversity matters.

You might not have ultimate control, but you can lobby for someone with a certain point to join the group, so that opinion is heaerd.


If you force everyone to say something, it is good for the group.

Understand the silent ones.

If yo force evyerone to answer a question, you find out a lot. Like who doesn’t udnerstnad the question.


Consensus, words mean different things to different people

Jiustin: isn some orgs. The IETF, someone can strongly disagree and consensuses can be called despite that objection

State why you disagree and acknowledge that things are moving on so it is written down

johnW – should there be a minority and majority report?

Is that a viable way out.

You can you discover divergent opinions and they are on the record.

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