Fist to five voting is a simple and effective way to gather group feedback or to gauge consensus in a meeting or discussion. In this method, participants are asked to rate their level of support for an idea or proposal on a scale of 1 to 5, using their fingers. However, fist to five is a decision-making technique that should be described in the project charter and agreed upon by all participants. Ample time should be allowed between the initial poll and the final vote for negotiation and agreement to occur.
How It Works
The facilitator or group leader presents an idea, proposal, or question to the group.
Participants are then asked to indicate their level of support for the idea on a scale of 1 to 5.
A fist represents zero support or strong opposition to the idea, while a five represents full support or strong agreement.
Participants can show any number of fingers between 1 and 4 to indicate varying levels of support or agreement.
The facilitator then tallies the votes and uses the results to guide further discussion or decision-making.
Fist to five voting is a quick and easy way to gather feedback and build consensus in a group. It can be used in various settings, from team meetings to community groups, and can help ensure that everyone can be heard and that decisions are made with the group’s best interests in mind.
Not a First and Second Reading
A first and second reading before a final vote is a common parliamentary procedure in many legislative bodies, such as the United States Congress and the European Parliament. These readings allow members of the legislative body to fully consider and debate the proposed legislation before voting on it.
Not Five-Finger Polling
Verbal polling on a 1 to 5 scale can be an effective tool for gathering feedback or opinions, depending on the context and purpose of the poll.
One advantage of using a 1 to 5 scale is that it allows for a range of responses rather than just a binary yes or no answer. This can provide more nuanced feedback and help to identify areas of consensus or disagreement among participants.
However, the effectiveness of verbal polling on a 1 to 5 scale will depend on several factors, such as the clarity and relevance of the questions being asked, the quality of the participant’s responses, and the skill of the pollster in facilitating the discussion.
It’s also important to note that verbal polling on a 1 to 5 scale is not be the most suitable approach for all situations. For example, if the topic being discussed is overly sensitive or personal, participants may be less willing to share their true feelings in a group setting. In such cases, anonymous or individualized surveys may be more appropriate.
Overall, verbal polling on a 1 to 5 scale can be an effective tool for gathering feedback. Still, it should be used thoughtfully and in conjunction with other methods to ensure the data collected is accurate, relevant, and useful.
Fist to Five Example
South Carolina’s State Water Planning Process Advisory Committee (PPAC) is a good example of using the fist-to-five method effectively. The PPAC is comprised of stakeholders with diverse interests in South Carolina’s water resources, including agriculture, developers, water utilities, power utilities, recreation groups, and environmental organizations. The task over 10 months was to develop and approve a framework that would be used in all of the state’s river basins.
A Two-Step Process
Approval of the Final River Basin Plan was reached in two steps. Step One involved the Members indicating their level of consensus with a copy of the Draft River Basin Plan. Components (chapters) were approved in final draft format as they were developed. Discussions and negotiations were also documented.
Step Two involves approving the combined components in a draft framework. This included a first vote (fist-to-five) and then several sessions later a final vote.
Each member indicates their concurrence using a five-point scale.
1 – Full Endorsement (i.e., member likes it).
2 – Endorsement but with Minor Points of Contention (i.e., member likes it).
3 – Endorsement but with Major Points of Contention (i.e., member can live with it).
4 – Stand aside with Major Reservations (i.e., member cannot live with it in its current state and can only support it if changes are made).
5 – Withdraw – Member will not support the Draft River Basin Plan and will not continue working within the RBC’s process. Member has decided to leave the RBC.
Ratings were only considered from appointed members. Alternates were not allowed to vote. The facilitator used written ballots for the first vote but had the option to do a verbal roll call.
Members who rated the draft plan as a 4 or 5 on the first vote were required to state their Major Reservations or Dissension so that the concerns might be resolved. A vote of 4 or 5 on the final vote required a written statement of 500 words or fewer for the final approved document.
The process worked well, with no votes of 4 or 5 for the PPAC Planning Framework. The PPAC developed and relied upon a project charter that explained the decision-making techniques, we had ample meetings to allow for time if the initial poll yielded undesirable results, and we did a decent job communicating throughout the process.
I love fist to five voting as a simple and effective way to gather group feedback or to gauge consensus in a meeting or discussion. However, fist to five may not be applicable in all contexts. All participants must agree on the technique, and ample time should be allowed between the initial poll and the final vote for negotiation and agreement to occur. As long as you are formally chartering your facilitated effort and are using more than a few sessions, fist to five is a powerful decision-making technique.
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