IAF Methods

Five Finger Consensus

by for . Last edit was over 2 years ago
6 - 20 15 - 50
Any meeting in which consensus is desired. Especially helpful with community groups
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Additional info

Goal

To help a group achieve consensus WITHOUT having to water down a strongly supported solution

Attachments

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Materials

    Instructions

    Five-finger consensus is designed to encourage significant agreement without jeopardizing the quality of the solution.  5 minutes per "vote" followed by a 1-2 minute discussion

    During

     Here's how it works.
     Once an alternative is proposed and discussed, and the group is ready to check for agreement, the facilitator does the following. The facilitator explains that on the count of three, each person should hold up between one and five fingers indicating the level of support for the recommendation on the table.
    - 5 ? Strongly agree
    - 4 ? Agree
    - 3 ? Can see pluses and minuses, but willing to go along with the group
    - 2 ? Disagree
    - 1 ? Strongly disagree and can?t support
     If everyone shows a 5, 4 or 3, consensus has been reached, and we can move ahead. If there are any 1s or 2s, those who indicate such are given the opportunity to explain to the rest of the group why they gave the rating and make recommendations to change the alternative in order to make it acceptable to them. The originator of the alternative has the option to make the change or leave the option as it is and explains the decision to the rest of the group.
     Then the facilitator tests five-finger consensus again. If everyone shows a 5, 4, 3 or 2, the decision is made, and we can move ahead. If there are any 1s, those who indicate such are given the opportunity to explain to the rest of the group why they gave the rating and make recommendations to change the alternative in order to make it acceptable to them. Once more, the originator of the alternative has the option to make the change or leave the option as it is and explains the decision to the rest of the group.
     In the final review, majority rules. The decision is made based on the majority of the participants.
     Five-finger consensus encourages the group to listen carefully when there is disagreement; and, in fact, encourages listening carefully twice if necessary. But the technique doesn't allow a solution to be watered down because a few disagree. Though admittedly there may be one or two who don't like the alternative, our belief is that five-finger consensus helps ensure that they all are heard, and heard well.

    After

    Usual or Expected Outcomes: It moves the emphasis on those who disagree to convince the majority. (Traditional consensus commonly works the other way!)

    Potential pitfalls: 5-Finger Consensus does not guarantee full agreement. It does, however, guarantee that each person has the opportunity to be heard, and heard well.

    Background

    Source: Michael Wilkinson (adapted from other techniques)

    Alternative names: Fist-to-Five

    Comments (1) ( 5.0  avg / 1 ratings)

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    • This is a very useful polling method. I have used it to find the wisdom of someone who disagrees, and their suggestion for changes.

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      over 2 years ago