Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Decision making tools

Recently I attended a seminar on team facilitation at UW Madison, and one of the topics we covered was decision making tools.
One of the tools we reviewed and tried out was dot voting.

Dot voting can be used on items such as identifying which projects to start first, which issues to address first, ranking items within a burn down chart, or simply using it after brainstorming to help select the items you want to focus on to move forward.

Steps to the method
1. Each person is given a 10 dots (or post-it notes work well too), and they are instructed to indicate their priorities, they are to use all their dots, but no more than 4 on any one item (4 = their top priority).

2. The items are posted on a flip chart (you may need multiple flip charts, or give participants more dot) and the participants place the dots on their priorities.

3. When everyone has placed their dots, count the dots, and typically there are a few clear winners.

4. Now the discussion starts on which projects (or items) should be ranked the highest.

This method is a good visual aid, gets people out of their seats, and should help to limit discussions on picking the top ranking items.


  1. AnonymousJuly 22, 2010

    Take a look at Paired Comparison Analysis or Analytical Hierarchical Process and you'll dump your dots in the trash.

    Dots have not way to avoid duplicate priorities.

  2. Glen,
    You are correct. Those are two more excellent methods, but they are a bit more involved and for certain decisions are probably a bit overkill for the certain situations.

  3. AnonymousJuly 28, 2010

    The "rub" with the "putting stickers on priorities" is there can be conflicting priorities, multiple 1st priority, and no way to "de-conflict" these priorities.

    The Paired Comparison can be done with a flip chart and a marker, no special tools. People can use the "dots" to vote, but once voting is done, the PP ranking is used to sort out the priorities.


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