Everyone has equal input into the decision; from the CEO to mail clerk, no one holds any more legitimate power or influence over the decision than another.  One person’s action, however, may carry more or less influence, based on previous experiences.

While not essential, consensus is best supported by a functional flat hierarchy.  This allows for an organizational structure of varied domains/responsibilities, while power over another is never granted by one’s position.

That is to say:

    • No one can force you to do anything you don’t want to do.  “Because I said so” utilizes legitimate power, which would not be consistent with Flat Hierarchy. 
    • No one can be dismissed without following an open, existing process created by the community.
    • No one person has the power to hire– it’s always a group, and membership to that group is open (following a community-set process as well).

Functional flat hierarchy is an organization structure, while consensus is a decision making style.  Consensus can be used to make a decision in countless other organization structures, including dictatorships.  However, gaining authentic participation in this situation is more challenging.  It becomes more likely when leaders are explicit about what decision making is being used, and what the scope of that decision is.   

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Look to politics . . . to countries run in a hierarchical fashion . . . to groups . . . to organizations . . . all where some coercive power is the way for how many (never all, and rarely most) things happen.  What would a political system look like if money (a reward/punishment base of power) were not the reason for actions?  When values conflict, and strategies to meet needs are in opposition, power and conflict arise.  Where there are agreements around consensus, and the many ways of being that serve life, there are avenues for expression and change that don’t meet a wall.  There will be no peace without that basis.  How do people learn those tenets?  By experience.  Your experience . . . here, and that you understand and are able to apply it elsewhere.  Get passionate.  Get involved.  It’s what moves Augusta.  It’s what moves the world.  If you don’t act here, under what specialized conditions are your willing to act?

Cheri Huber:    A merely fallen enemy may rise again, but the reconciled one is truly vanquished.
Marie Curie:    While nothing is easier than to denounce the evildoer, nothing is more difficult than to understand him.
Marilyn Ferguson: You can’t shake hands with a closed fist. 

Consider that fear is the kernel of all uses of coercive power.  Where does that fear come from?  From the idea that one’s needs are not going to be met, or met to the level desired.  Coercive power is often the most direct route to getting one’s needs met.  To exit the hamster wheel of conflict, a different approach is necessary, especially when it is difficult to do so. 

The opposite side of outward coercive power is fear turned inward, as with dirty communication #4, not approaching someone about a need, because you are afraid.  Sometimes the fear manifests itself as dismissing one’s idea as unworthy, without being grounded and at peace.  Such fears benefit from support, for the fear itself, and as aid to approaching one’s unmet need. 

Cheri Huber:    Every time we choose safety, we reinforce fear.
Marie Curie:    Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.
Marilyn Ferguson: Ultimately, we know deeply that the other side of every fear is a freedom.
Marianne Williamson: Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.