The paramount goal of this stage is to reach an agreeable and acceptable conclusion.
The paramount goal of this stage is to reach an agreeable and acceptable conclusion that answers the questions developed in Stages 1 and 2. Although Stage 5 may need to loop back to previous stages, this is conclusion time, the final bargaining and problem solving that culminates the substantive, procedural, and relationship work that has taken place.
The highest possible agreement, accord, concurrence, and conclusion is one that satisfies the greatest number of substantive interests, that is in keeping with good process, that heals old hurts, that creates more certainty about the future than existed at the start, and that leaves relationships in the best possible shape. The most pragmatic goal is to achieve “consent,” not “consensus.”
This phase can be easy and frictionless, a simple “sliding” into a set of natural conclusions or agreements that follow comfortably and logically from the discussions that have come before. Alternatively, this stage can be a time of protracted and dramatic haggling, dickering, and political brinksmanship that require a final Herculean effort by the stakeholders, project sponsors and funders, and by the organizers. Managing the latter requires members to confront the possibility of deadlock and then work to either prevent or break impasse.
It’s important to keep the broader group of stakeholders and their constituencies thoroughly informed to ensure there are no last moment “surprises,” defections, or betrayals.
The best decisions come about when people have brought thoughtful information to the table, evaluated its worth together, and then made nuanced and justifiable value judgments.