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Using Fist-to-Five for Team Voting

Using Fist-to-Five for Team Voting Ever find yourself wondering what the team is thinking? Are they quiet because they are working through the implications of a topic? Because they all agree on the topic under discussion? Or are they silently plotting a group exodus to the nearest watering hole? Sometimes it’s useful to get a quick check on where the team is.

“Fist-to-Five” is a great team tool to check-in with the group, take a quick “temperature” check on the level of support for an idea, to learn where people stand on an issue or to gain consensus. Here’s how it works.

Someone in the group poses a question (What do you all think of going out to Jaye’s for lunch today?) and asks for a “Fist-to-Five” vote on the question. On the count of 1-2-3, everyone simultaneously raises a fist with zero, 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 fingers extended.

Here’s how to interpret the votes:

  • Zero fingers (a fist) – No way. I don’t support this choice and I am vetoing it. This blocks consensus and the group needs to discuss the veto.
  • 1 finger – I could go along with this, but I have an issue or concern that I’d like to resolve first.
  • 2 fingers – I’m willing to try this. Any concerns of mine are minor and I don’t need to discuss them.
  • 3 fingers – I can support the idea.
  • 4 fingers – I like the idea. It works for me.
  • 5 fingers – This is the best idea ever! It would be my first choice! Everything is AWESOME!

If all votes have 3 or more fingers – the team is supporting the idea or proposal, feeling at least some level of confidence and is ready to proceed. If there are any votes with zero or only one finger – some discussion is needed before the group re-votes.

I find this technique particularly useful when teaching a complex subject. Ask the team for a “fist-to-five” vote on their level of confidence in understanding the topic. A fist indicates that the group is in need of having the basic information repeated before proceeding to more complexity. And a roomful of “fives” indicates a high degree of confidence and the potential for you to outsource the training to the team!

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