Focus – Voting/Dotmocracy


Dot-voting (also known as dotmocracy or voting with dots) is an established facilitation method used to describe voting with dot stickers or marks with a marker pen. In dot-voting participants vote on their chosen options using a limited number of stickers or marks with pens — dot stickers being the most common. This sticker voting approach is a form of cumulative voting.

Why is it used?

The origins of dot-voting are unclear. Professional facilitators have been said to use it since the 1980s.

Dot-voting is now widely used for making quick collaborative decisions by teams adopting agile and lean methodologies. For example, it’s one of the methods endorsed by the 18F digital services agency of the United States’ General Services Administration, and it’s part of the Design Sprint methodology.

When is it helpful?

Dot-voting is a quick and simple method for prioritise a long list of options.

It’s less cognitively demanding than having to perform a full ranking of all the options, because participants are not required to give a comparative judgment of each option, and it allows participants to express a preference for more than one option at the same time.

It leverages the collective wisdom of the team, and provides an equal way for all the voices on the team to be heard and have accountability in prioritising key issues.

It also creates a sense of engagement and allows participants to see the decision process in action and understand how the final choice was made.

How is it applied?

The dot-voting process includes the following steps:

– Participants are each given a set number of dot stickers (as decided by the facilitator)
They place dot stickers next to options presented that they like (they may place any number of their dots on any number of the options)

– Options with the most dots at the end of voting “win”. Variations include:

– Using different colour dots to signify different values, e.g. green for “like” and red for “dislike”.

– Using different colour dots for different types of participants e.g. blue for management and red for staff.

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