3 Facilitated Voting Techniques

By Zach Chapman - December 12, 2018

3 Facilitated Voting Techniques
December 12, 2018 By Zach Chapman
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3 Facilitated Voting Techniques

Since Scrum teams are self-organizing, they are often in a position where they are faced with making a group decisions. This, along with thousands of other things, makes the role of a Scrum Master exceptionally challenging.  In order to keep the team moving forward in a timely and organized matter, effective Scrum Masters use facilitation techniques.

The Role of Facilitated Voting

3 Facilitated Voting Techniques

What happens when your team cannot agree on a decision? Facilitation techniques are used to democratically have the Development Team come up with a workable solution and move forward.  Facilitation delivery has a variety of options. Some of the most popular techniques include Dot Voting, Fist of Five, as well as Thumb Voting. Let us dig into each of these to see how they can help your team.

1.) Dot Voting

As the Scrum Master, you give every member of the team a set number of votes (typically three), called dots. Solutions are written on individual note cards and placed on a table. The individual team members will take their votes, in the form of a dot, and place it on a note card they favor.  The solution with the most dots (votes) wins.

Dot Voting

You want to be sure everyone is voting at the same time so that no one gets persuasion one way or another. Try to limit talking during the voting process. When people are allowed to talk, usually the loudest person's idea wins instead of the best idea.

2.) Fist of Five Voting

Fist of Five voting allows Development Teams to reach consensus quickly and as a group. This technique is implemented by someone audibly proposing an idea and having the team vote by raising their hands, with a twist. Each vote is weighted based on the person's opinion to the idea. Here is how the ranking is broken down:

  • 0 fingers (a fist): This idea has a fatal flaw. The group will not proceed with any idea that has a fist.

  • 1 finger: The group will move forward if there are 1s. There are major issues I'd like to resolve before moving forward.

  • 2 fingers: I'll go along with this idea but it is not my favorite.

  • 3 fingers: I support the idea and cannot think of anything wrong with moving forward.

  • 4 fingers: This is a good idea. Excited to move forward.

  • 5 fingers: I love this idea and will support with everything I have!

If you find zeros and ones talk through the issues. For efficiency, voter gives bullet points on their concerns. For expert level efficiency, don’t discuss zeros and ones. Propose a new solution and re-vote and repeat until there are no zeros. This idea works best for co-located teams so the facilitator can easily see all votes. With each individual having a veto power it allows specializations to not be overlooked.

3.) Thumb Voting

Thumb Voting

Thumb Voting is essentially Fist of Five voting made simple.  The only difference is the voters give a thumbs up, thumbs down, or thumb to the side. When the group has to decide in a rapid manner, this can help get to a decision quickly. This method works best when a quick and simple group decision needs to be made.

Development Teams are presented with tough decisions and each member has their own idea.  A good Scrum Master can use these democratic solutions to:

  1. Prevent inter-team fights

  2. Promote effective collaboration

  3. Ensure each member feels involved and heard

  4. Get full team on board with a direction

  5. Keep the team moving forward

  6. Increase velocity and save time deliberating