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Thumbs Up?

At Twenty2 one of our all-time favorite techniques to quickly arrive at consensus for Teams is the “Thumbs up” otherwise Roman Voting. There is something so simplistic about this technique but also powerful as it’s often the starting point for Psychological Safety in a team. Since learning the technique from Carlton Nettleton we use Roman Voting ALL the time because is fast, it is easy and it is fun.

I once even had someone tell me that the Roman Voting technique was the most memorable and useful thing they have learned a wprkshop.

So how does it work, Roman Voting is a simple up or down vote made with thumbs. Depending on the situation I will also allow participants to vote with their thumbs sideways.

If you’re looking for a simple way to start why not ask your team a Basic yes or no question, I’ll often use it to confirm understanding after explaining something.

“does that make sense everyone?”

I’ll then lead into a “clean” Roman Voting technique.

  1. Everyone votes at the same time. Thumbs up signifies a “yes” (or agreement) while thumbs down signifies a “no” (or disagreement).

  2. Count the number of thumbs up and thumbs down. Depending on the decision-making rule (consensus or majority rules), the proposal either passes or fails.

Based on the no‘s I have created a safe space to help ensure everyone has a good level of understanding. Have fun practicing Roman voting… and please… no thumb wars!

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I used this last week in our weekly 'Power Hour' and it quickly moved the team forward even if it was 4 to 2, those opposed accepted the majority vote once they could see where the team was heading.

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