If the first component of your model is strategic alignment,and this component is predicated on the need for consensus among stakeholders, I wonder at the extent to which consensus can ever be achieved. Historical and contemporary evidence would point to the contrary, particularly in the field of education and schooling. In light of the failure to reach consensus, I wonder if this is a major contributory factor to the failure of schooling to provide for effective student learning? -C.G.

Steve Responds:
I would agree with your premise that failure to reach consensus is a major contributing factor to a lack of effectiveness in student learning. A system is a collection of components all working toward a common goal. If the various components do not have a common goal they cannot be expected to work together smoothly or effectively. I disagree however with the idea that it is impossible to attain consensus. I was involved in a project implementing this model in which 50 people representing each of the stakeholder groups of the model came together to create a functioning system. Our first task was to define a shared vision and reach consensus on our mission and goals. Throughout the course of the three year project, this activity stood out as the most difficult thing that we attempted. After four eight hour days of working together, and about two weeks of working separately, we were able to reach consensus on our vision. That vision was:
Collaborative members envision a society in which all individuals value diversity and respect the rights of others, have a desire and an equitable opportunity to continuously learn and engage in meaningful work, and are involved in the betterment of the Earth and its inhabitants.

I think the historical and contemporary evidence that indicate the difficulty of reaching consensus only point out the amount of effort that must be put out to do so.