Multi-voting: When More than One Vote is Better

Fred Schenkelberg
Apr 23 · 3 min read

Multi-voting: When More than One Vote is Better

In brainstorming, you may face a large number of unique ideas even after affinity diagraming. Multi-voting is a great tool to gain consensus on the top priority ideas with your team.

For less than 10 or so items we could use a rank ordering method, yet that method becomes cumbersome when there are a lot of items to prioritize. There are a couple of ways to conduct multiple-voting. Mastering this technique will help your team quickly focus on what is truly important.

Benefits of Multi-voting

You have been ‘those’ meetings where there is an endless discussion on which option to pursue. You may be working on a failure analysis seeking potential root causes, or developing a solution for a design challenge, or prioritizing improvement opportunities. Everyone has an opinion or favorite path to focus upon, yet you need the entire team focused on the right idea or path.

Discussion and debate have a role, yet that is best reserved for adding clarity or defining terms, not for lobbying for a priority. Everyone brings different experiences to the table. Rehashing and reviewing opinions is time-consuming and diminishes the chance of a team consensus.

Using multi-voting streamlines the process of finding the highest priority or most supported ideas. Everyone has their voice heard in the voting. And, multi-voting is a bit more sophisticated then majority rule.

The techniques are easy to explain, fair, and quick.

One-Half Plus 1 Votes per Person

Let’s say you have 25 ideas and want to identify the top 3 to focus on as potential product improvements. There is no obvious consensus in the group on which three to pursue.

If the ideas are not already all visible to everyone, get them on the wall.

Make sure everyone understands each idea (each is clearly defined and understood) — in this step just focus on understanding, not merits.

Everyone will get multiple votes to apply to individual ideas. One vote per idea with one half plus one votes per person. With 25 ideas that means each person votes for (25 / 2) + 1 = 13.5, which can be rounded up or down. Let’s go with 14 votes per person.

If three ideas have a clear majority of votes, you are done. If, say, the top 10 vote tallies are all very close (one to three volts apart), vote again on just the top 10 ideas this time each person uses 6 votes.

Continue till there is a consensus.

Of course, this is flexible, you don’t always start with 25 ideas. You may only need to vote once or many times.

Check in with the group that they agree and can support (consensus) the results.

Weighted Multi-voting

A variation of multiple-voting is to use weighting. Essentially each person can cast more than one of their votes for a single idea. They could use all of their votes for a single idea as well.

This works when some individuals really only what to support one idea. Whereas others have plenty of options they can support.

Just as with the one half plus one method above each person receives a fixed number of votes to cast. In this variation, you can vote more than one for a single idea as long as the total votes cast tally to your allocation.

Another way to do this is to give everyone 100 points which they can distribute in one half plus one ways. So, if each person has five votes, each person can distribute their 100 points across their selection of five ideas. It could be all 100 points on one idea or 20 points for each of five ideas.

Tally votes or points to identify the top ideas. Revote with a selection of top ideas until the group identifies a solution set.

Summary

Quick and easy and side steps endless discussion and debate. A team that has a fair way to be heard and participate generally can find consensus. Consensus enables the entire team’s focus on the priority tasks and makes progress toward a solution.


Originally published at Accendo Reliability.

Fred Schenkelberg

Written by

Reliability Engineering and Management Consultant focused on improving product reliability and increasing equipment availability.

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