The Highest Common Denominator: Using Convergent Facilitation to Reach Breakthrough Collaborative Decisions

What if people — even longtime enemies — could transform conflicts into creative dilemmas  they feel motivated to solve together? What if employees could leave a meeting empowered and with a joint sense of purpose? What if the positive changes community activists are working so hard to see in the world could have a lasting impact?

In The Highest Common Denominator: Using Convergent Facilitation to Reach Breakthrough Collaborative Decisions, Miki introduces a novel decision-making process called Convergent Facilitation that builds trust from the beginning, surfaces concerns and addresses them, and turns conflicts into creative dilemmas that groups feel energized to solve together. This highly effective process has been used successfully around the world to resolve problems and teach people how to collaborate without sacrificing productivity. 

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Since 2002, Convergent Facilitation has helped organizations, businesses, and governments upend traditional and unproductive decision-making methods, such as majority rule, top-down decision-making, or consensus, which can drain a group’s energy. In 2012, Miki worked with the Minnesota State Legislature to resolve gridlock on child custody legislation and helped stakeholders draft bills that passed nearly unanimously. In a 2014 op-ed in the New York Times, Miki explained how power differences lead employees to stay silent and not feel part of a common goal, which ultimately makes a business run less effectively. 

The procedures described in this book can be used in any kind of setting–from grassroots social change movements to village councils to corporate boardrooms–where people are having trouble collaborating effectively in a group, which is almost everywhere. With the mounting social, political, and environmental problems of our times, harnessing a group’s energy for effective action is essential. And yet many people drift away from organizations they care about due to their inability to sit through meetings–where tensions may remain unresolved, power differences are not addressed, and solutions that work for all do not seem available.

The Highest Common Denominator provides readers with the tools to learn and implement Convergent Facilitation. The book moves through three phases of a process that brings groups to outcomes that are profoundly collaborative and genuinely supported by all. Through vivid case studies and practical examples, the book explains:

  •     how to guide people towards solutions that integrate everyone’s needs and concerns without requiring compromise;
  •     how to keep people on track with the task at hand;
  •     how to invite dissent and engage with it productively; and
  •     how to attend to the power differences that so often interfere with collaboration.

In this book you can discover how, in Miki’s words, “facilitation becomes a fast-track course in personal growth” as we can learn to draw on resources in ourselves that elicit a whole-hearted group response.

View Recording of the Book Launch Celebration

Recordings from the book launch on January 12, 2021, can be seen here.

Options for accessing the book

We offer a simple PDF version of the book on a gift economy basis, click here for more info. 

For printed copies of the book, and a full eBook get your copy here

The cost is $20 plus shipping for a printed copy and $11 for the eBook. The book is also available for order on other distribution platforms, including Amazon. Purchasing this book directly from us and from BookShop, our publishing platform, means that more of your purchase will go directly to BayNVC.

What people have said about The Highest Common Denominator

Book Review Essay by Richard House

Click here to download Richard House’s review published in Association for Humanistic Psychology’s Self & Society Journal, Volume 49 No.1 Spring 2021.

You can read it on AHP’s website or view a pdf read the essay

Reviews for the Highest Common Denominator

Part instruction manual, part philosophy book, The Highest Common Denominator is an incredible contribution to the world of facilitation, decision making and group dynamics.

Kazu Haga, Founder, East Point Peace Academy; author, Healing Resistance

In these times of uncertainty and crisis, this book is a simple, straightforward, and deep introduction for those who want to master Convergent Facilitation. This process, born of Miki’s brilliance and vast experience, will steer us away from wasting time and accelerate our work for the Great Turning.

Joanna Macy, Ph.D., Root teacher of the Work That Reconnects, author, and activist

This book represents a major breakthrough for human collaboration. Whether at home, in the workplace, or amidst social movements struggling for change, the tools in this book could be revolutionary. 

Dr. Neil Howard Prize Fellow in International Development, University of Bath

If you only add one book to your library on facilitating meetings, on collaborative decision-making, or on conflict integration, please let this be that book. The vitality, the freshness, and practicality that Miki Kashtan’s Convergent Facilitation model embodies are based on both deep scholarly rigor and poetic artfulness. This book is a gift to and a prayer for the future.

Victor Lee Lewis, MA, Director of the Institute for Healing Justice Education and co-facilitator of  “Hard Conversations,” online learning communities for racial justice

Miki Kashtan generously shares her innovation, experience and knowledge in a practical yet heart-based book which uses a tried and tested facilitation method to transform group decision-making. Essential reading for our times.

Maria Arpa, Founder of the Centre for Peaceful Solutions and Executive Director of the Center for Nonviolent Communication

Full endorsements