IAF Methods


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To be used in a workshop to narrow down choices when there are many to select from.



To select from a list of ideas for further work.





    Pre-Work Required: determine ahead of time how mamy dots are needed and bring 50% more.



    1. Ask each person to select the top 3 ( of 8 to 12 items) items that meet the criteria you have decided on. They put the dots next to the items listed on the flip chart etc.

    2. When everyone has placed their dots count up the totals and put the numbers next to the items.

    3. It is at this point the discussion needs to begin. Take the top 3 or 4 and ask why someone voted on that one. Ask how many of the top ones need to be included in the priorities. Ask if there are any items missing that should be a priority.

    The discussion at this point does two things. The group's consensus is built in this process. Often items that do not receive enough votes actually should be included in the priorities and this gives an opportunity for that to emerge.

    Alternative One

    1. Give each person a small number of sticky dots.
    2. They walk up to the front and put on their priority item(s).
    3. Can be used with colored dots: i.e. .

    - a. red dot = one you?re most passionate about, .

    - b. yellow=easiest to dot, .

    - c. green= costs least, .

    - d. blue=most impact.

    4. Reflect what the pattern tells you about the group?s consensus

    Alternative Two

    1. Number items.

    2. Using dots, "points", or show of hands, each person votes for at least 1/3 of the items on the list.

    3. Tally votes.

    4. Cross out items receiving the fewest number of votes.

    5. Repeat until 7 or fewer items remain.

    6. Discuss or use another method to pick one item.


    Follow-Up Required: Implementation plans need to be created.

    Usual or Expected Outcomes: an agreed list of prioritized items to be further worked on

    Potential pitfalls: It becomes a popularity contest and not a serious weighing of options


    Derived from: found on Jo Nelson's "Meeting Tools"

    History of Development: unknown

    Alternative names: Voting with dots, Dotmocracy, NGT voting, nominal prioritization

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