Building Consensus: Finding Common Ground

Nancy E. Richman, Ph.D., Manager
MAPPING the Future of Your Community
Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs

Key to a leader’s ability to address critical issues effectively in an organization or community are the processes used to bring people together to deliberate the issues and to make decisions. In a consensus building process, people with different interests work together to clarify issues, educate each other about respective concerns, generate options, and then reach agreements that everyone can accept. Decisions are reached through mutual understanding and agreement that leads to the discovery of common ground, rather than through a process of voting. The “nominal group technique” is one tool leaders can use to bring a large group of stakeholders to a consensual decision. This breakout session will focus on the elements of a consensual decision making process and the nominal group technique as one tool for effective leadership.

About the Presenter . . . .

Nancy E. Richman, Ph.D., manages the MAPPING (Management and Planning Programs Involving Nonmetropolitan Groups) the Future of Your Community program, a unit of the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University. She is responsible for developing and implementing a strategic visioning and planning process whereby local residents of rural communities create a long-range vision for their community and a plan of action for achieving it. MAPPING projects enhance local decision-making processes by providing accurate information, effective forums for public dialogue and problem solving, as well as knowledge of innovative practices that are consistent with a community’s vision for growth and change. Richman joined the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs in January 2001 with 20 years of managerial and consulting experience in the health care industry.


Laboratory for Community and Economic Development | College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
University of Illinois Extension | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign