Voting Variations to Narrow a Brainstormed List

Posted by Kristin Arnold on June 14, 2022

voting variations

Your team has just brainstormed a creative, long list of ideas, solutions, problems, causes, or other items.  Now what?  Rather than simply roll up the flipcharts, toss them in a corner and forget them, you can take the next step and narrow down the list with these voting variations:

The Simple Handvote.  “Those in favor of option A, raise your hand….”  While this may be the easiest and most familiar way to select one from many, it will divide your team into separate camps.  There will be clear winners and losers — which goes against the spirit of teamwork!

Quickvote.  Each team member gets 10 votes.  They can place all 10 votes on one item or scatter them among many items.  If you think the vote will be skewed with one or more people dropping all 10 votes on one item, call the 10-4 rule where one person can only put a maximum of four votes per item.

Multivote.  The number of votes is a third of the total number of items.  For example, if you have 12 items to choose from, each team member would have four votes.  Like a quickvote, members can place all four votes on one item or scatter them among many items.

Nominal Group Technique.  A rank order vote where each team member is required to vote for a third of the items.  For example, if you have 12 items, you must vote for four items.  The most important item gets a “four” (the highest number of votes possible), the second most important items gets a “three”, the third most important number gets a “two” and the least most important number gets a “one.” 

When you tally up the numbers, the item that receives the most number of votes is considered to be the most important.  Also, take a look at how many people voted for each item — you may find that just a few people voted for the top item.

If your list is really long (over 20 items), each of these voting techniques will only narrow down the list.  Consider doing another voting round to ensure team buy-in and support of the final choice.

Selection Grid.  If you must select between just a few remaining options, try the selection grid.  List the options down the left side of the grid.  List the criteria for selection across the top.  Then evaluate each option against each criterion.  If the option fulfills the criterion, place an “x” in the box.  After the team has evaluated all the options against the criteria, see which option satisfies most of the reasons your team wants it!

Before you call the vote, make sure everyone understands each option.  Go through each item on the list and ask for the person who mentioned the item to briefly explain what the item means (no more than a minute for each item).  As you go through this process, some items may be combined or even deleted from the list!

Then remind the team of the topic you are voting about.  Ask the team members to individually make their choices and then call for the vote.

Related Articles:

Sort Your Brainstormed List to Take ACTION

IDEO’s Design Thinking: The 7 Rules for Brainstorming

How to Brainstorm a List at a Meeting

KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CSP, CPF|Master has been facilitating meaningful conversations between executives and managers to make better decisions and achieve extraordinary results for 25+ years. She's a leading authority on moderating panel discussions and passionate about finding the perfect olive to complement a vodka martini.

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