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Evaluating Ideas: Multivoting

Multivoting is a process for narrowing down a list of brainstormed items by indicating a priority for each item on the list. This decision-making step is especially useful when a group has generated lots of ideas [see last week's Defining the Vision activity] and wants to get a sense of the relative priority of each item

In last week's entry, we used as an example defining a vision for a new middle school. Let's say the process produced a list of 32 ideas that were part of participants' vision of this ideal new school. Now it is time to narrow down the list and give participants a chance to express their priorities

First, make sure there is clarity about the meaning of each item on the list. (Where there is agreement to do so, you might even combine ideas that are similar in meaning.) Then explain that in multivoting every participant gets the same number of votes.


Key Points To Take Away

--- Use multivoting to narrow down a large list of ideas
--- Make sure everyone is using the same criteria as they vote.
--- Multivoting should not be used to circumvent important differences or conflicts.

A good rule of thumb: divide the number of ideas on your list by 3 to come up with the number of votes each participant will get. For very long lists, you might divide by 5.

Since our example group came up with 32 ideas, we will divide by 5. Each participant will have 6 votes.

Write on the board or flipchart a list of criteria that participants will want to consider as they make their choices. In our example, those criteria might include

  • items that are most important to you;
  • items that would best serve the students; or
  • items that are most likely to be approved.
It is important that all participants use the same criteria for selection; otherwise you'll be comparing apples and oranges.

Decide and be clear as to whether people can "stack" their votes on items (give items of top priority more than one vote) or whether they need to use each vote for a separate item.

Then invite everyone to come up to the charts to mark their top choices.

Once the votes are tallied, be clear about what will happen next with this list. For example,

  • Will all items be presented to the planning committee listed in priority order?
  • Will only ideas that received the most votes be presented?
  • Will ideas that received x number of votes or more be presented?

For more information about the multivoting strategy and other strategies for setting priorities and a vision, order your copy of Great Meetings! Great Results today.

NEXT WEEK IN GREAT MEETINGS: Pick 3 - Drop 3 is another tool that helps groups narrow down a list of ideas.

About Great Meetings

Pam Plumb and Dee Kelsey are your facilitators in charge of Education World's Great Meetings series. They are also authors of the popular guide to meeting facilitation, Great Meetings! Great Results. Together, Pam and Dee have more than 40 years' experience facilitating change and training meeting leaders.

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