Dot Voting - It's easier than you think

A wonderful tool, that allows individuals to express their wants/needs/priority.

Josh D. Ether

10/7/20222 min read

What is Dot Voting?

Dot voting is usually considered a decision-making tool, it is an easy way to paint a picture as to what the team feels is valuable or should be a priority.

Example: Dot Voting is preferred to select the most important 2-3 items during sprint retrospective.

It’s a simple and effective way to prioritize or indicate the value of several small items quickly. When there is a relatively small set of items and you don’t want any complex techniques, in this method each team member gets a small number of dots in the form of stickers and uses them as votes to indicate the interest or importance of an item. The more votes an item gets, the higher the interest, and the higher its priority.

The steps for dot voting are as follows:

All notes/ideas are put on a wall, virtual or real, by all members of the group.

Every team member is given the same number of votes; these can be small round sticky notes if in person, or team members can vote in the online application for instance Mural/Miro/etc if virtual.

Every team member is asked to put their votes on the ideas/notes that interest them the most.

This process is repeated until all votes have been cast.

This is the most difficult part of the process: Determining how the topics should be worked on. I have found success splitting the team into several breakout groups/rooms to have an initial discussion about why the topic selected interested them the most. Giving 20 minutes to start digging in to the topic is more than enough time to get started.

At the end of the 20 minutes the outcome should be does this team feel confident taking on the idea/task at hand? If not what context, resources, etc. are they missing?

Just like teams we as individuals need to understand our own personal WIP limit and be okay with saying no to things.

Reasons for Effectiveness:

Since individuals do not need to deliver a comparative judgment of each option, this method is quick and effective.

Out of the long litany of options available in the table, Dot Voting methodology leverages the collective wisdom, and shared ownership of the team to ensure an increased focus on what they find to be the most critical to their success.