This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

July 10, 2002

Consensus Building Technology

Technological developments surround us and affect practically everything we do. Now there's a technology that builds communication and consensus. It's web- based, as you might imagine, using the power and the instantaneous nature of the Internet. The interactive process operates in real-time. What makes this new technology really interesting is the capability of returning to an interactive session to continue to participate; it's not just a one-time engagement.

Rather than being a static tool, Consensus BuilderTM is a dynamic process with open-ended feedback, collaboration around that feedback, and an exciting ongoing conversation. Participants can see what others have said, agree or disagree, and add their own comments in a "live" communication experience. The open-ended nature of this technology is that it gives users opportunities to express their ideas and insights on issues that are important to them. They can also see what others are saying, and how others are responding to their input. It's like a focused, efficient chat room that gathers information, processes it, and reports back to participants about what's been said.

While consensus is building, administrators of the system can actually go back to the participants on a group, individual, or opinion level to ask further questions on the feedback being received. This ability to go deeper helps refine ideas, get more specific, and remove ambiguity. You can imagine how this technology will help companies understand their customers' wants and needs. Beta testing has shown the effectiveness of Consensus Builder in customer relationship management, employee retention, and leadership development. While face-to-face communication is always important, electronic communication is becoming a more efficient and significant part of our lives.

Proponents of this technology have observed several impacts: building goodwill as people are grateful for opportunities to be heard, a sense of community that comes from ongoing communication, deeper expression that flows from anonymity, and the efficiency of 24/7 availability. There is no limit to the number of people who can be involved and bias can be managed by "blind" expression of ideas. Alternatively, participants can see how their opinion relates to other responses. It's very flexible technology.


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