Red Green Cards for Consensus Reaching

Red Green Cards are a specific adaptation of Consensus Reaching and help a group arrive at a conclusion and develop a shared commitment to it through that process.

The Red Green Cards idea is used in situations where the decision to be made can be resolved down to yes/no answers.
It is particularly useful where a preferred option has a clear majority within the group, but dissenters are proposing (possibly entirely reasonable) modifications to the selected option. Like: “Okay I agree with blue, but could it be a sort of teal blue to match our logo?”. Except it’s not just one proposal, there may be two or three, and you fear if you open the floodgates, all of a sudden the ‘Blue’ option will encompass all of the original options again (Been there! Done that!). The idea is to resolve the decision down into a short series of modification proposals, such as “I propose the blue is changed to Pantone 322U (Teal)”
If there are a lot of these proposals you will need to make an executive decision about how important commitment to the answer will be in practice, and whether you can shortcut the consensus process (see  Shortcutting the consensus process)
Red green cards are small playing card size cards printed green on one side (with the word ‘yes’ on them) and printed red on the other side (with the word ‘no’ on them).
They are used just prior to step 2 of the consensus process to develop an initial picture of the balance of opinion. This then enables the faciliator to ask first for two or three arguments in favour of the proposal from different people, and then two or three against. This will help you to control the input from the outset and keep a balanced flow. Ensure that people understand and follow the rules from step 2 through to step 9 of Consensus Reaching – if it becomes a free-for-all or people break the rules and get away with it, then views will become entrenched and people will feel the process was not fully fair, with all the attendant consequences for commitment.
Keep the shifting perspectives, without repetition, until all of the views on both sides have been heard. To help with this, the facilitator can call another red/green show (purely to assess positions) around step 5. The facilitator can then use the red/green cards to finish off on step 10.
The influence of red-green cards is subtle. It helps the facilitator make informed choices on gatekeeping the inputs. Putting them down after they have been first shown is symbolic of being able to put your original prejudice to one side while you hear all the inputs. The use of such a tool indicates this is a process.
Over time you will discover for yourself the subtle influences of people’s behaviour around the card, and make your own decisions about whether you need any additional rules about what happens with the cards while the discussion is ongoing. This might not seem like an important point, and most of the time it won’t be, but do this enough times and you will discover situations where what people do with the cards can make a difference to how people feel about the outcomes – particularly if people’s ego becomes subtly enmeshed in what is happening. Behaviours really do speak louder than words on occasion.
We are not aware of a source of such cards but, as you can imagine, they are remarkably easy to produce.

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