Confidence Voting

Gains consensus around a team's agreement or disagreement on the current activity, event or questions
Contributed by

Tim Beattie

Matt Takane

Edited by
Published August 10, 2018

What Is Confidence Voting?

  • A practice that gains consensus around a team's agreement or disagreement on the current activity, event or questions

  • A group voting on how confident they are in doing something or learning something

  • A safety check

Why Do Confidence Voting?

  • Builds a consensus for team agreement to progress or not progress

  • A facilitator will conduct the vote. As a topic discussion concludes, the facilitator will ask the participants to vote how confident they are on understanding the topic, the ability to execute, and sufficent resources and time.

  • At the count of 3, all participants will raise their hand and raise fingers indicating their confidence: 1 for low, 5 for high and 2, 3 or 4 for anything in between.

  • In the end the facilitator will count the votes and open a discussion on what is yet to be cleared or addressed before moving on to the next topic.

How to do Confidence Voting?

State the question: “Is everyone okay with Indian food for dinner?’

Count: 1, 2, 3, vote! Everyone votes at the same time and hands must be held high. This may seem trivial but, for more contentious topics (although this could be one), it is important that people do not look to others in the room to see how to vote.

Each person votes by holding up 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 fingers.

The facilitator (or vote caller) looks around the room and quickly tallies the votes. The votes breakdown like this:

0 fingers (a fist): No way, terrible choice, I will not go along with it. A way to block consensus.

1 finger: I have serious reservations with this idea, but I vote to move forward, but I’d prefer to resolve the concerns before supporting it.

2 fingers: I have some concerns, but I’ll go along and try it.

3 fingers: I will support the idea.

4 fingers: I like this idea, sounds good.

5 fingers: Absolutely, best idea ever! I’ll champion it.

Based on the goal of the vote (as noted above), the facilitator takes the next steps…

Goal: Check-in — The facilitator uses the results to adjust the session, make changes, start a discussion, or other actions based on how the vote went and how he/she sees the process progressing. Was the vote what you expected? Different? Do you believe changes are required?

Goal: Learn and gain consensus — If you have some 0s, 1s, or 2s, ask for reasons. What reservations do they have? You ask for a brief summary or a bottom-line of the reasons. Ask for other bottom-line comment from others. Then call another vote. You may learn new information to restate the question and vote again.

Goal: Vote and move forward — If everyone has fingers up, that is a yes. If everyone has a fist up, that is a clear no. If there is a mix, it is a winner take all, number of hands with fists, vs. number of hands with fingers up (1 thru 5).

Look at Confidence Voting

Links we love

Check out these great links which can help you dive a little deeper into running the Confidence Voting practice with your team, customers or stakeholders.

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