Hot to use Dot voting with Forced Ranking

Dot voting with forced ranking helps hosts to quickly eliminate a lot of ideas and then generate a clear ranking of what the group believes is important.

When to use it:

Forced ranking can be very hard to manage beyond about 15-20 ideas, this method is ideal for when you know there will be a high volume of ideas created but you want to generate a clear sense of priority for the ideas you bring forward from the workshop. 

Things to think about:

  • Be ruthless when pruning between dot voting and the forced ranking. This is an opportunity to focus on the consensus within the group
  • Be wary of very similar ideas sneaking through; they can split the vote on dot voting and result in a popular idea not making it to the top-end of the list
  • For any forced ranking, make sure you are clear on what 'important' really means, so people are ranking things to the top on the same understanding.

How to set up Dot Voting with Forced Ranking:

  • Before the workshop, the facilitator needs to configure the number of votes (“dots”) available to each participant.
  • The default number of dots per participant is set at 10, but this configuration is worth consideration! If you feel you're going to have a reasonably small number of ideas, keep the number low.
  • If you feel resolute, you could just have 1 vote per participant to encourage them to thnk more deeply about which one idea they really like.

NB: you will not be able to edit the number of votes during the session.

How it works during a live session:

  • During the workshop, the participants can go through all the ideas and add or remove votes to each idea based on their preferences; they can add all of their votes to one idea, or distribute them to all of the ideas as they see fit.
  • Once the participants have finished applying their dots, the facilitator displays the ranking, displaying the idea with the most number of votes at the top and the least at the bottom. At this stage it is strongly encouraged to discard the ideas at the bottom, because after the dot voting is completed, participants will then get the chance to evaluate each remaining idea by dragging and dropping them into ranking order; the most important at the top, the least important at the bottom.
  • Once participants are complete, these are displayed on another list, where they are ranked by the average ranking by the participants from first to last.

Recommended time: 30-60 minutes

Number of participants: 3-20+

For more detail on each underlying method, please see their individual pages: Dot voting, forced ranking.


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