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Ways to Vote

Posted on Oct 14, 2015 by in Agile & Lean, Facilitation & Soft Skills | 2 comments

Ways to Vote - Dot Voting, Roman Vote, and Is that a decision?

Agile Software Development gains much of its power from self-organizing teams. These teams take a lot of decisions that traditionally are taken by managers. When teams first start with Scrum or another agile process they are often unpractised in reaching group agreements. This week’s 1-pager features some basic ways to vote.

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Content of 1-Pager:

Ways to vote

In agile self-organizing teams often take decisions for themselves instead of relying on managers. This can call for votes to settle a discussion. Check out these basic ways to vote!

Dot Voting

You’ve got a list of options and want to pick the top ones fast

All participants get the same number of votes to split and distribute on the options however they like. Fewer votes mean faster counting. 3 votes per person is a popular number. In this case 1:1:1, 1:2 and 3 votes for the same topic are all valid. In the name-coining form of Dot Voting the facilitator hands out stick-on dots to the participants. 1 dot per vote. If you’re not concerned about someone manipulating the votes, you can also use X’s, drawn with big markers. That way it also works on whiteboards.

Roman Vote

Gauge the support for one proposal

Everybody votes at the same time by showing a thumb up, horizontally or down. Thumb up shows support, thumb to the side means “I’ll support whatever the majority wants” and thumb down means that you want to speak.Beware of lots of horizontal thumbs. Support is lukewarm at best.

“Was that a decision?”

In a discussion the participants seem to have reached consensus yet it’s not explicit

Sometimes you don’t need a vote. Encourage everyone to loudly ask “Was that a decision?” in unclear situations. This question often gets enough silent people to voice a “Yes” so that people know that they indeed just took a decision. People are forced to speak up, if they object. It’s a simple, effective, technique for advanced teams. In fresh teams people might not speak up if they object. Silence does not equal consent.

2 Comments

  1. Hi,

    when building up new team besides the roman vote I also show them to use the:

    – fist to five https://www.kristinrunyan.com/fist-of-five/

    I always experience that roman voting does not stick and fist to five as well.

    And we end up just asking “Has anyone a veto tregarding proposal XY?”

    What are your expierences?

  2. Hi Alex!

    I actually thought about including Fist of Five on the 1-pager, so thanks for adding it in the comments!

    I like fist of five and we sometimes use it. When we can’t readily agree someone suggests a voting methods and in 99,5% we just use the suggested method. I usually suggest roman vote because it has the build in “I wanna speak”. When I picked methods for the 1-pager I only wanted to include either Roman or Fist-of-Five because they’re somewhat similar. With many people in the room I find roman vote a little easier to gauge.

    I will try to pay attention as to who suggests voting and how. Whether it’s the usual suspects (Scrummaster) or other as well 🙂

    Best, Corinna

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