Decision Making Using Multi-Voting

If you are making an organization decision that involves a number of people, you may have to take a vote at some point in the process. But how do you take that vote? What if the topic at hand is not a simple ‘for or against’ kind of proposition? If you would like to use voting to help make important organizational decisions from time to time, you may wish to employ the popular Multi-voting method. With this method, you can select the most popular options from a list in order to get an idea about the consensus of the group. Multi-voting is not always the right solution when trying to make a decision, but it can be perfect in specific circumstances.

Decision Making Using Multi-Voting

What Kind of Decisions?

Multi-voting is a smart choice when you need to narrow down a list. That is the strength of this kind of decision making – to take a large list and pare it down to the options on the list that are the most popular among the group. For instance, let’s say your business needs to undertake new marketing efforts in order to regain some lost market share. If that is the case, you may find that your team has come up with a long list of ideas for new marketing ventures. However, you likely won’t be able to use them all, so you will need to find a way to narrow down that list of ideas based on the consensus of the group. By using Multi-voting, you can quickly figure out which ideas are the most popular in the eyes of the team, and you can get started with your new marketing concepts right away.

First Steps

If you would like to use the Multi-voting method, the first thing you need to do is develop a list of ideas that are going to be the subject of your vote. Ask the team that is working on this project to collaborate on a list. At first, you can put any idea that is presented onto the list, but you will want to slightly narrow down and ‘clean up’ that list before it goes to the vote.

The Multi-Voting Procedure

If there are multiple ideas that are basically the same, for example, you can bring those ideas together to consolidate the list. Before any vote can take place, all team members should have the opportunity to ask questions about the ideas on the list. It is important that everyone involved has a clear understanding of what it is that is being voted upon.

After a period of brainstorming and discussion has passed, a final list should be assembled. This list can be as long or as short as is appropriate for the situation. Once the team agrees on all of the points on the list, that list should be numbered and distributed to everyone involved for a final review. If there are no remaining questions or concerns about the list being used, the process can move on to the actual vote.

Taking the Vote

Before taking the vote, you will want to decide on exactly how many votes each individual is going to be given. Generally speaking, each person should be allowed to vote for roughly 1/3rd of the ideas on the list.

Taking the Vote

So, given a list of 15 items, each person would be allowed to place five votes (thus the name ‘Multi-voting’). Of course, you are free to alter the number of votes allotted as you see fit, but the 1/3rd rule is a good place to start.

With the number of votes decided, you will need to actually take the vote, either by a show of hands or by secret ballot. As the vote progresses, you will tally the votes for each idea until all votes have been cast and the process is complete. Once the votes are tallied, the results can be presented to the group for discussion. How are the votes distributed? Are there a few ideas which stand out from the crowd, or are the votes evenly distributed from top to bottom? By talking about the results of the vote as a group, you can quickly begin to interpret the results.

Doing It Again

In the case of a particularly long list of ideas, you may wish to go through this process a couple of times. For instance, imagine you have a list of 20 ideas that you are considering for your marketing initiatives. For the first round, you may decide to give everyone six votes. Then, when that round is complete, you will take the totals and eliminate the bottom ten ideas from the list.

Repeating the Process

Now that you are down to ten ideas, the voting process will be repeated, with only three votes allowed for each person during this second round. When the second voting round is over, the top three or five ideas (or however many you choose) may be declared the winners.

It won’t always be necessary to repeat a Multi-vote, but that is a good option to have in mind if you are dealing with a big problem or have a surplus of ideas coming from your team members. The idea here of course is to ‘take the temperature’ of your team in order to figure out which are the most popular ideas on the table. While it is possible to take a public vote, you may wish to complete your Multi-vote by secret ballot in order to avoid any bias or peer pressure.

As a decision making model, Multi-voting is extremely simple and easy to use. However, don’t let that simplicity trick you into thinking that this model is not a powerful way to make choices. A quick Multi-vote can help you to accurately identify the ideas that your team is the most confident in taking forward, and that information is extremely valuable to you as a manager. It won’t take long to go through a round or two of Multi-voting, and the outcome just may have the power to change your organization going forward.

You can read more about Multi-voting in our free eBook ‘Effective Group Decision Making’. Download it now for your PC, Mac, laptop, tablet, Kindle, eBook reader or Smartphone.

Key Points

  • Multi-voting makes it possible to take a vote when the topic at hand is not a simple ‘for or against’ proposition.
  • It is ideal where there is a large list of options that needs to be pared down to to those that are the most popular among the group.
  • The list of options should be drawn up by the group making the decision with similar options grouped together to make the number of options manageable.
  • The number of votes given to each group member is variable but us typically one third of the number of items on the list.
  • By talking about the results of the vote as a group, you can quickly begin to interpret the results.
  • It can be a good idea to use this system iteratively in order to accurately identify the ideas that your team is the most confident in taking forward.

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