Dot voting

Quickly build consensus to prioritise available options
Contributed by

Donna Benjamin

Matt Takane

Published November 03, 2023

What Is Dot voting?

Dot Voting is a collaborative decision-making technique. It helps people to prioritise or select options from a range of choices. Participants use sticky dots or simply draw dots with a marker to visually indicate their preferences or priorities.

It is a simple and effective method for reaching consensus, making informed decisions, or allocating resources. Adding up the dots quickly shows which are the most popular or important options.

Photo: Dot Voting Example by Jason Diceman

Why Do Dot voting?

Dot voting is quick and easy to facilitate, making it one of the most common and popular ways to move from generating options, to acting on them!

Dot Voting helps teams prioritise tasks, ideas, features, or projects. It allows members to focus on what is most important or valuable.

Consensus Building
When a group needs to make a decision or reach a consensus, Dot Voting can highlight the most favoured options and guide discussion toward agreement.

Resource Allocation
Teams can use Dot Voting to allocate limited resources to different initiatives, such as time or budget.

Idea Generation
In brainstorming sessions, Dot Voting can identify the most promising ideas, helping teams select which concepts they might want to explore further, or act on.

Feedback Gathering
Dot Voting is useful for collecting feedback or input from a large group quickly. It helps reveal the most common or important opinions.

How to do Dot voting?

You will need:

  • List of options to be voted on (written on a whiteboard, poster, or online)
  • Space for participants to place their dots next to the options.
  • In person: Sticky dots or markers (each participant should have the same number of dots)
  • Online: Create little circle shapes on your virtual whiteboard or canvas to use as dots and give the same number to each participant to use to vote on objects on the board.

Action steps:

  1. Prepare the Options: Write down the list of options or ideas that the group needs to prioritize. Ensure that the options are clear and well-defined.
  2. Explain the Process: Inform the participants about the purpose of Dot Voting and the number of dots they will receive. Typically, each person is given a specific number of dots (e.g., three or five), but you can adjust this based on the group size and the number of options.
  3. Vote: Participants place their dots next to the options they consider the most important or their top choices. They can distribute their dots freely, placing multiple dots on a single option or spreading them across different options.
  4. Count the Dots: After all participants have placed their dots, count the number of dots next to each option. The options with the most dots represent the group's collective preferences or priorities.
  5. Discussion (Optional): Depending on the context, you can facilitate a discussion to explore the reasons behind the choices or to reach a final decision. This discussion can help participants understand the group's thinking and make any necessary adjustments.
  6. Final Decision: Based on the results, make a final decision, allocate resources, or prioritize tasks accordingly.

Dot Voting is a versatile and inclusive method for decision-making and prioritisation. It encourages participation, provides a visual representation of preferences, and helps groups make informed choices. Whether you're working in a team, planning a project, or looking for a way to gather feedback, Dot Voting is a valuable tool for reaching a collective consensus.

Look at Dot voting

Links we love

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

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