Comments on: Testing consensus using Roman voting Unconferences, peer conferences, participant-driven events, and facilitation Thu, 02 Apr 2020 20:05:47 +0000 hourly 1 By: Jeff Ward Fri, 02 Feb 2018 22:00:00 +0000 Two comments:
1) I have spent many hours observing preschoolers acting as a group. What I have seen is 1-2 members within the group take control, 1-2 leave the group (sometimes in tears) and the rest fire off ideas/directions at a rate no one can follow. This is not collaboration, this is directional chaos. It does work but there is a lot of wasted energy.
2) I would like to see the results of the experiment if it were given to a group of adults that score high in spacial ability (none of those mentioned are known for this). There you might see a combination of trial and error and scientific method practiced.

By: Adrian Segar Sat, 19 Nov 2016 17:02:00 +0000 In reply to Jason Diceman.

Jason, I agree that anonymous voting is a great tool to discover whether there is, in fact, majority agreement on a course of action. Roman voting then becomes useful as I describe in my reply to Nicholas below.

By: Adrian Segar Sat, 19 Nov 2016 17:00:00 +0000 In reply to Nicholas Perry ~ @UltimApe.

Somehow, Nicholas, I didn’t see your long thoughtful reply until now. I’m sorry I overlooked it.

It’s important that Roman voting is only used after there’s been “sufficient” (always a judgement call) discussion. Given this, I think that Roman voting is most useful when there’s been enough discussion that it’s clear there’s some minority unease with a majority-supported decision. When this occurs, it’s helpful to clarify the distinction between those who are prepared to go along with the majority viewpoint and those that are still opposed and want to discuss more . A Roman vote under these circumstances simply provides more information — it doesn’t require minority members to change their minds, but just to state where they currently stand.

Yes, there may be group members who are meeker than others, more likely to go along with whatever the majority wants. I don’t know any way to account for this; anonymous voting won’t help because, if there’s been enough discussion, it will be already clear what the majority wants to do, and the meek person will go along with it. (If you are wondering if it will make a difference, you can vote anonymously first and see whether there is indeed a significance majority preference. if not, either there hasn’t been enough discussion or the decision is truly contentious and consensus under current conditions will be unlikely.)

Finally, I think it’s important to bear in mind that, most of the time, the value of attempting to reach “consensus” is in the process of getting somewhere, rather than the end result. Informed, even though reluctant consent to a course of action that some don’t personally agree with is a core facilitation goal in a world where true unanimous agreement on almost anything is rare to non-existent.

By: Jason Diceman Fri, 18 Nov 2016 15:42:00 +0000 In reply to Adrian Segar.

Even with good ground work, peer pressure and bandwagon effect are always present. It’s basic human social dynamics.

Secret rate voting using paper ballots or Feedback Frames (starting in 2017) are also an option.

By: Adrian Segar Wed, 11 May 2016 23:09:00 +0000 In reply to Piotr Kundu.

What you’re describing, Piotr, is not testing consensus but old-fashioned yes/no voting, which can be done in one step by traditional hand-voting. Yes, small-group work can be useful for idea generation, but that’s not what Roman voting is for.

By: Piotr Kundu Wed, 11 May 2016 08:31:00 +0000 In reply to Brandt Krueger.

One method I have seen is to divide large groups into groups of 4 people and make a vote. Then get one person from each group into new groups of 4 and make a new vote. Continue until there is one group left. Works even better if you are brainstorming ideas, so that you have multiple outcomes, instead 3 choices like the Roman Vote.

By: Adrian Segar Wed, 08 Apr 2015 21:40:00 +0000 In reply to Nicholas Perry ~ @UltimApe.

Happy to put you on a list to be informed when the new book is available (should be out in June). If interested, send me an email .

By: Nicholas Perry ~ @UltimApe Wed, 08 Apr 2015 14:54:00 +0000 In reply to Adrian Segar.

OO awesome, I didn’t know that I’d been using dot-voting all along. I’ll keep an eye out for your book, sounds like exactly the kind of thing I’d like to read.

By: Adrian Segar Mon, 16 Mar 2015 10:41:00 +0000 In reply to Nicholas Perry ~ @UltimApe.

Thanks Nicholas. Both the techniques you describe—dot voting and what I’d call affinity grouping—are described in my new book out in June, in a long section on “participative voting”. I also include “Idea Swap”, which is a great way to get anonymous opinions on contentious or sensitive topics. I cover the detailed use of these useful techniques there so I won’t go into a lot of detail in this comment. Suffice it to say that Roman voting is best used in a group where it’s safe to to publically express opinions, there has been significant discussion on an issue, and it’s time for a quick method to discover whether a broad concensus exists or not.

By: Nicholas Perry ~ @UltimApe Mon, 16 Mar 2015 10:13:00 +0000 In reply to Brandt Krueger.

A nice visual way is to hand out colored stickies and having everyone ‘vote’ by putting the stick on a whiteboard or chart. It creates a very visual look. You can then ask for people to express some of their concerns.

For really large groups, you can even break people up by their card color and have them do a group brainstorm (method of your choice) separately to come up with their ‘most important’ concerns that they would like to address to make the resulting discussion more productive and pointed.