Consensus Building: 5 Approaches for Better Alignment
February 16, 2023
It’s one thing to have a great idea — and another to bring it to life. To make the most of any idea, you’ll need a team. And, you’ll need to get buy-in for not only the solution, but also the process.
Building consensus and alignment within a team is essential for successful outcomes. When everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goal, the team is more likely to succeed — no matter what the desired industry or desired result may be.
But how do you get there?
In this post, we’ll cover five practical approaches that anyone can use for building consensus and alignment within a team. From understanding the decision-makers to holding routine check-ins, these techniques will result in better outcomes, strengthened relationships, and reduced conflict.
Before we get started, however, let’s look more closely at what is meant by building consensus, and why it’s an important place to start for any project.
What is consensus building?
Consensus building is the process of gathering input from stakeholders to ensure that everyone involved in a project is in agreement. Building consensus and reaching an agreement before starting a project is an important step in the decision-making process.
By taking the time to listen to different perspectives and views on the project, project facilitators can take stakeholder input into account to establish a common goal and create a clear plan of action. This process can help to reduce conflict and ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards a successful outcome.
Benefits of building consensus
Through building consensus with your team, you can enjoy (among other things) improved alignment, increased commitment, better outcomes, strengthened relationships, and reduced conflict.
By actively listening to the different perspectives of all your stakeholders, you can ensure that everyone is on the same page and has a shared understanding of the project. This will lead to better alignment on your team as a whole, as well as between the individual stakeholders, making it easier to create a plan of action that everyone agrees on.
With everyone working together towards a common goal, team members will be more likely to stay committed and engaged. When the team is focused on a shared goal and the individual contribution of each stakeholder is acknowledged, everyone is more likely to stay motivated and invested in the project.
With everyone working together, the team can develop a better plan of action that takes into account different perspectives and views. This will lead to better outcomes as everyone is working towards the same goal. This can also reduce the risk of errors, as everyone is on the same page and understands the task at hand.
When everyone is aligned and working towards a common goal that they’ve participated in setting for themselves, the team is more likely to stay committed and engaged in the project from start to finish.
Learning from one another and valuing everyone’s contributions not only helps build broad understanding, it also strengthens the trust and the relationships between teammates, making it easier to collaborate and work together now and in the future.
By building consensus and alignment within a team, you can reduce conflict as everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goal. This can help to create an environment of mutual respect, making it easier to work together and reach successful outcomes.
5 techniques for building consensus
1. Understand the stakeholders
It is important to understand who your stakeholders are in order to establish common ground for a project, as this will help to ensure that everyone's perspectives and views are taken into account. This includes understanding the concerns, requirements, and priorities of individuals and groups that may be affected by the decision. Project leaders should take the time to listen to stakeholders, encourage open communication, and ensure that everyone has a voice in the decision-making process.
Testing assumptions and hypotheses is a critical step in building consensus and determining the best approach to developing solutions, as it helps to ensure that everyone's perspectives and views are taken into account.
4. Collaborate with a group brainstorming session
Working together in a group brainstorming session encourages everyone to express their ideas and perspectives, which helps to build alignment and understanding between team members.
5. Build a space for feedback
A shared digital space provides a safe and open environment for all stakeholders to give honest feedback and contribute to the consensus-building process. Creating a channel for feedback helps to build trust, maintain project momentum, and ensure that the decision-making process remains inclusive and transparent.
Mural’s Feedback Grid template offers a clear, visual structure to gather positive and negative feedback from your team, as well as ideas for improvement and any questions they may have.
Tips for building consensus
While the above offers a series of frameworks and techniques for building alignment and consensus for any project, you can go further with these tips that help generate more engagement and understanding across your team throughout any exercise.
Start with a clear purpose
Starting any consensus-building exercise with a clear purpose will help to ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goal. This can help to reduce confusion and create a shared understanding of the project.
The Mural Project North Star template helps capture and define the most important information about your project with your team, with preset sections for roles, goals, KPIs, target audience, and more.
Avoid overcomplicating things
Keeping the consensus building process as simple and straightforward as possible will help to ensure that everyone is able to participate and contribute. Make sure processes and tasks are clear and concise in order to ensure that everyone understands the project and is able to contribute.
Encourage open dialogue
It is important to create a safe and open environment in which everyone feels comfortable expressing their ideas and perspectives. Encouraging open dialogue between stakeholders will help to ensure that everyone's ideas are heard and that everyone is on the same page.
Focus on the issues
Don’t get lost in the weeds. It is important to stay focused on the main issues, so that conversations and work are directed towards achieving the desired outcome.
Bring stakeholders in to co-design the solution
Co-designing a solution together enables stakeholders to take ownership, drives alignment, and boosts engagement, helping to ensure successful outcomes.
Hold check-ins often
Checking in with teammates regularly helps to boost engagement and alignment, and ensures that everyone is on the same page. Regardless of your meeting type, this simple process can make meetings more effective in a single step.
Don't settle for concessions, strive for consensus
Consensus building isn't about settling for concessions; it is about striving for a shared understanding and alignment — even excitement — for your project.
Understand the stakeholders by mapping out who is involved in the project
Agree on the main problem and focus on the issues at hand
Test assumptions and hypotheses to ensure that everyone's perspectives and views are taken into account
Collaborate with a group brainstorming session to encourage idea sharing and understanding
Build a shared digital space for feedback and contribution
Start with a clear purpose to ensure everyone is on the same page
Avoid overcomplicating the consensus-building process
Encourage open dialogue to ensure everyone's ideas are heard
Focus on the issues and co-design a solution together
Check-in with teammates regularly to boost engagement
Celebrate successes and recognize everyone's efforts
When you build consensus, what you’re really building is commitment, camaraderie, and momentum. By following these tips and techniques, you can ensure that everyone is working towards the same goal and that each stakeholder is heard and respected.
Remember: Work isn’t a place — it’s what we accomplish together. That means it’s not the where, but the how that matters most.
Change your how with Mural. Get started today with a Free Forever account, and invite unlimited members, so that every stakeholder’s voice is included and your team can collaborate better, innovate faster, and drive more impactful projects.
About the authors
About the authors
Content Marketing Manager
Bryan is a Content Marketing Manager @ MURAL. When he's not writing or working on content strategy, you can usually find him outdoors.