I just saw an advertisement for a training course. It was titled something like "Making Team Decisions by Consensus."
This is where team building gets a bad rap and experiences on the "ropes course" don't translate well into the real work environment. Making decisions by consensus is applicable to bowling outings and the summer picnic and that's probably about it.
Typically, teams never truly reach consensus anyway. Instead, they end up with an "aura of consensus" where one or two loud voices or big personalities speak for the group.
And anyways, if you waited until you truly had consensus you would miss every market opportunity out there. I mean seriously, can you imagine a 20 person organization trying to make decisions by consensus? How about 100 person organizations? How about 1000 person organizations?
Now, there is a critical element of the consensus decision making process that I do like - ensuring that people's voices are heard. When people have the opportunity to speak, they feel like their contributions matter, and when their contributions matter, they tend to be more committed to their leader and to the organization.
AND, reasonable people don't have to agree to the final decision or outcome. They will still be committed if their voices were heard.
So, stop wasting time. Instead of trying to make decisions by consensus, focus on getting people to participate, listen to each others ideas, and engage in constructive debate.