Last reviewed: 13 December 2021

Activities

Dot voting

A quick, democratic way to prioritise and filter lots of ideas.

  • 1 to 8 people
  • 10 minutes

Advice on dot voting

Why have a dot vote

Dot voting helps your team to:

  • prioritise ideas quickly
  • decide which ideas to progress as a group
  • make sure everyone has a say

Who is involved

People with a range of different perspectives and knowledge which usually includes:

  • a facilitator
  • all team members
  • anyone outside the team who could add a different view

When to have a dot vote

Use this method whenever you have lots of ideas that you need to discuss and prioritise. Dot voting is very quick to organise and do.

This ‘convergent’ or filtering activity typically happens after a ‘divergent’ activity like generating lots of ideas.

Things you’ll need

A digital or physical space so that you can see all of the ideas.

Digital or physical sticky dots or marker pens.

Timer and an understanding of:

  • what you are voting on
  • how many votes you have each

Tips on running the session

Make sure everyone understands that the team will:

  • take forward the ideas that get the most votes
  • revisit the ideas with less votes later if they need to

Learn more

How to use dot voting for group decision making.

How to do a dot vote

How to use the steps:

This is one way of doing this activity based on our experience.

You might want to adapt it or only use part of it.

Teams often find their own way of doing an activity. This is a guide to get you started.

  1. Welcome and introductions

    Dot voting typically happens as part of another activity. For example, when your team have created lots of ideas and need to choose between them.

    You may not need introductions but it’s good to be clear that you are starting a dot voting activity. You could say, “We’re going to move on to a dot voting activity so that we can prioritise our ideas.”

  2. Introduce the aims for the session

    Explain that dot voting is a democratic way of:

    • deciding which ideas you will prioritise and why
    • making sure that everyone has a say
  3. Discuss any blockers or limitations

    Ask people to try and make their vote without discussing it first.

    Your team members should not try to influence one another’s votes or sell their idea. You can discuss the ideas more after the vote.

  4. Introduce the thing using a visual example

    Make sure everyone understands what you are voting on and has access to it. It might be sketches, storyboards or ideas on post-its.

    For example, you’re doing a Retro and you’ve talked through challenges of this sprint. Your team all generated suggestions so you do a dot vote to decide which challenge to focus on.

  5. Context setting

    Let everyone know how many votes they have and how they can cast them. For example people could have three dots each.

    Make it clear, for example, if it’s okay to cast all three dots on one idea or put a dot on three different ideas.

  6. Do the dot vote

    Ask people to cast their votes. You can set a timer if you think it will help.

  7. Review the dot vote

    Reorder the ideas or sketches. Put the idea with the most votes at the top and the idea with the least votes at the bottom.

    Ask if the team are happy to progress the ideas with the most votes and the process of choosing them.

    You could review whether people felt like they had the right number of votes in this case. There’s no right or wrong answer - you’ll get to know what feels right over time.

  8. Close the session

    Agree what’s next and close the session. You could say:

    “We’ll end the session there, thanks everyone for all your input.”

  9. After the session

    Keep visual evidence of all the ideas if you have not done this as part of the activity already. You might want to come back to the ideas and the reasons you chose an idea later.

    You could decide to do a Priority mapping or How might We activity next. Or the dot voting session could mean you’re ready to implement some ideas.

To decide what you work on next, go to ways of working activities.

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