A Fist of Five vote is a technique used by facilitators to poll team members and help achieve consensus. A Fist of Five vote is often more useful than a simple Yes/No vote because it allows participants to register their level of support.
A Fist of Five is not a simple "majority rules" technique - it specifically tests an idea for opposition, which must be resolved before moving on. A "passing" Fist of Five decision is one in which nobody votes less than 3.
How to Use the Technique
The facilitator or moderator should state the proposed decision that the group will make, and then ask for the Fist of Five vote. Each team member responds by holding up the number of fingers that corresponds to his or her level of support.
- Five fingers means: I love this idea. It is the best we can do. Let's move forward.
- Four fingers means: I am happy with this and believe the solution will work.
- Three fingers means: I can live with and support this decision. I may have reservations, but I won't block moving forward.
- Two fingers means: I have reservations and would have trouble supporting the decision.
- One finger (never THAT finger) means: I strongly oppose this idea and can neither live with it nor support it.
If all team members vote 3 or higher, you have achieved consensus.
If any team members are below a 2, it means that you have some work to do before moving forward - you do not have consensus. You must use conflict resolution techniques to address the concerns and questions of those who oppose the decision.