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Vishwadeep Khatri
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Message added by Mayank Gupta,

Multi-voting is a consensus building tool which is best preferred when the group has a long list of possibilities and wants to narrow it down to a few for analysis and discussion and/or when a selection process needs to be made after brainstorming.

 

An application-oriented question on the topic along with responses can be seen below. The best answer was provided by Chaitanya Shankar Nemani on 11th Jan 2022.

 

Applause for all the respondents - Roshini Vijayan, Prabhu Gudelli, Johanan Collins, Sai Kotari, Rathish Parameshwaran, Chaitanya Shankar Nemani, Vijay Krishnan, Afzal Wadood.

Question

Q 435. What is Multi-voting method for idea evaluation? What are its benefits that makes it so popular? What are its pitfalls or limitations? Explain using an example.

 

Note for website visitors - Two questions are asked every week on this platform. One on Tuesday and the other on Friday.

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Multi voting is one of the effective methods to refine and select the best amongst many or during the situation of multiple available choices/items/ideas/proposals etc.

There are 3 benefits of multi voting :-

1)      Sequencing/Ranking the most important amongst all

a.       Choosing the first & best top items  

b.       Selecting what goes first and followed by the next (preferably action items)

2)      Elimination of least priorities

3)      Categorization or structuring of items to various buckets/units

 

Multi voting follows 3 steps (AVR) :-

Agenda – Clearly defining the purpose of voting, selecting the voters, orienting the procedure of voting

Voting – Choice Selection, Sequencing, Categorization  (based on Voter’s knowledge & Judgment)

Result – Evaluation Structuring & Execution

The motto of this technique is to make good decisions to breed satisfactory result/outcome or to prioritize the sequential best actions.

 

Though multi voting technique has greater significance, it pushes some limitations :-

-          If the constraints of voting methods not addressed appropriately

-          If the Voters Judgement & Analysis failed to select/rank the choices

-          If the committee don’t re-evaluate the outcomes which have some un important/unfavorable choices

 

Example :-

The General Manager of a Business Unit was very happy with the Team’s performance and Business growth. GM want to appreciate for the Teams’ contribution and wanted to gift the team. He used multi voting technique to rank the choices amongst them so that team can feel they are recognized and sense satisfactory rewards.

GM has good amount of budget to gift more than 1 item as per their choice of reward and has a plan to satisfy the team within the approved limit.

GM opened the voting for all the team members (30 members)

Apparel Vouchers – priority choice of 8 votes

Electronic Gift Items – priority choice of 2 votes

Team Outing in a resort – priority choice of 7 votes

Taxable Bonus – priority choice of 10 votes

5 days’ vacation (Compensated PTO) – priority choice of  3 votes

In the above voting, team members gave their priority of reward in the below sequence :-

1st = Taxable Bonus

2nd = Apparel Vouchers

3rd = Team Outing in a resort

4th = 5 days’ vacation (Compensated PTO)

5th = Electronic Gift Items

 

Thus, GM found a way to reward the team members with rankings.

 

Other perspectives in the above example :-

-          The complexity of voting or number of voting round increases if there is,

a)       Only 1 item must be selected amongst the extensive or a greater number of choices

b)      Very less budget. (Requires more refinement through elimination of bottom/least choices)

c)       Reward choice should be highly satisfied by the team members or missing of their desired choice

d)      Alternate choices allowed

-          Teams feedback must be taken even after declaring the choice to do well next time while rewarding them.

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Multi-Voting or Nominal Group Technique (NGT) voting is a decision making method that is used to narrow a large list of possibilities to a final selection of top priorities. Multivoting is preferable to straight voting because it allows an item that is chosen by all while not allowing the first choice of any to be the topmost option.

Use of Multi-Voting

 

Multi-volting is typically used right after brainstorming or other techniques of idea generation when the exhaustive list of ideas has to be narrowed down. This technique is always used for a decision made by a group judgement.

Procedure

 

1.       List all the ideas generated by brainstorming in a numbered list

2.       Apply affinity diagram or other methods to combine or group similar ideas

3.       Decide on number of votes each person in the group has, usually five per person

4.       Each member is given a voting sheet on which they individually rank five options in order of preference. Highest preference gets score of 5 , next one gets 4 and so on

5.       Tally the votes and record them on a flipchart/whiteboard

6.       If a decision is clear, stop, else briefly discuss on the votes if there are many items with same score in the final tally

7.       If necessary, repeat the voting process after discussion

8.       Prepare the final list of narrowed down options for further work

 

1.JPG.75e6c63b5a2e19f477603fdec59d518a.JPG

Benefits

 

·         - Simplicity of the technique, Less time consuming

·       -   Streamlines the process of finding the highest priority or most supported ideas

·      -    Allows full participation of all team members irrespective of their experience or expertise

·        -  Allows for silent contemplation after a supercharged brainstorming session

·    -     Allows for the idea with the broadest support to win

 

 

Limitations

 

  -   Some very useful or creative choices could be totally ignored while applying multivoting

- - Effectiveness of the brainstorming and voting strongly depends on the composition of the group

 

Example

Let's explore how Multi-voting can be used in a real life case in the below example

 

1.       Problem Statement: How to improve the process of recruitment/hiring at ABC Corp

2.       Brainstorming:  Team brainstorms on the problem and generated. Clarify each idea and use affinity diagram or other grouping methods to group ideas or eliminating any duplicates

3.       List of Ideas:  Prepare a final list of ideas and distribute list to participants as a voting sheet

2.JPG.049e53832fb4c03c55a0a1c04414b0e9.JPG

1.      

       4.  Voting : Allow 10 minutes for voting where each participant ranks top five ideas. If the list of ideas is larger you can also use the formula of N/2 +1 to decide on the total number of votes each participant gets.  Top idea gets a 5, next 4 and so on…

 

3.JPG.fd0340813e3ff469a0673ec2b332e03e.JPG

 

 

         5. Final Score: Collect the voting sheets and combine the rankings. Idea with the maximum score is shortlisted for further action and development4.JPG.013f442c0fa88282a751bfaf0ee3997f.JPG

 

Hence, we have a list of 3 ideas for further action

1.       Process Digitization - Off the Shelf Solution

      2.       Streamline Application and Interview Process

       3.       Rework Job Descriptions

 

      Remarks

      In the above example we have been successful in shortlisting 3 ideas out of a possible 12 for further action. There seems to be a broad consensus on the topmost priority options. Limitation of the process is that some brilliant idea which could be a game changer could be left out of further exploration due to its low/no score. However, after the project is underway one could always revisit other possible ideas to improve the process.

 

 

References:

https://lucidspark.com/blog/techniques-for-group-decision-making

https://accendoreliability.com/multi-voting-one-vote-better/

https://asq.org/quality-resources/multivoting

https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/practice/resources/phqitoolbox/nominalgroup.html

https://topworkplaces.com/how-to-improve-employee-recruitment-process/

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Multivoting is a method used to narrow down or minimize the output from ideation workshops or sessions when there is huge list of ideas to be narrowed down and prioritized. It  allows  team to quickly come to a consensus on issues, problems, or solutions by accounting for individual importance rankings in a team's final priorities.

 

This method

             Helps build commitment  with in the team through equal participation in the process

             Team can rank the ideas/ issues without being pressured by others

             Brings up non vocal team mates also to contribute

             Helps discuss difference in opinion or reach consensus

 

Steps for Multivoting

1.            Create the list of problems, issues, or solutions to be prioritized.

2.            Pen statements on a flipchart or board.

3.            Clarify issues by eliminating duplicate and/or clarify meanings of any of the statements.

4.            Record the final list of statements on a flipchart or board.

5.            Rank issues

 

Types of Voting Dots. Show of Hands or  Ballots

 

Advantage of Multivoting

1. The  major advantage of the technique is producing a large number of ideas and providing a means of closure  which is often not found in other  less-structured group methods.

2. This techniques is particularly useful in narrowing down when here is a huge list of items generated part of ideation .

3. The technique is very simple process and structured to execute.

4. The techniques also ensures participation across the group which is he major advantage of the technique, especially with people who are reluctant to speak up in a crowd either shy or worries about being criticized or may be don’t want to get into a conflict.  

5. It hence ensures relatively equal participation across the team.

Disadvantages of Multivoting

1. Major limitations of the technique would be the huge preparation time for this activity and also the fact that it lacks the flexibility of dealing with only one problem at a time.

2. The team should be comfortable and should have some about of mutual flexibility in reaching consensus 

3. The process unlike other methods lack spontaneity and needs to be facilitated and planned in advance and appears too mechanical.

4. Opinions may not be discussed in detail or covered in the voting process in interest of time and restricted to only vote.

5. The technique also is not data driven except from opinions on relevant group of people are collated and voted for prioritization, hence is more group perception driven

6. Since Opinions may not converge in the voting process, cross-fertilization of ideas may be constrained in this process

 

Conclusion : Hence Multi-voting techniques is a great decision making or prioritization  method extremely useful in scenarios with large list of options needs to be pared down to to those that are the most popular among the group or most important to be addressed with out hurting anybody. 

 

 

 

 

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Company wanted to decide what should be the high competency, qualifying criteria for lateral hires selection. For that they want to decide what should be weight-age for these elements. The competency elements are more than 10 numbers. There are many stakeholders in the company like HR, Direct Line function Managers, Quality, EHS, Finance, L&D etc. Company decided to conduct Multi Voting, which is also called Nominal Group Technique in prioritizing the competencies.

 

Rationale of the company is that - as there are many options, it is important to narrow down the options so that during the selection process, decision making would be easier. They do not want to be biased identifying the weight-ages to competency elements by just few people’s opinion. For better cultural fit of candidates and also help in organization having less employee turnover and have long term career, they decided to take majority stake holders opinion. Each Head has been asked to select top-5 competency elements with rating on scale of 1 ,2,3,4,5. They have organized flip charts, post-it sticks, or ease also decided to make table of options so that one can give their preference based on the scale. After the end of session, their goal is to develop below table with desirable outcome for clear prioritization.

 

Competencies or qualifying criteria

HR

Production Head

Quality Head

EHS Head

Finance Head

L&D Head

Engg Head

Opex Head

Total

Education back ground

1

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

3

Total no. years of experience

 

 

 

 

1

 

5

 

6

No.of years of exact experience

 

1

 

5

 

1

4

 

11

Communication ( in chosen Language)

2

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

4

Functional knowledge

3

4

 

4

 

 

3

 

14

Result orientation

 

5

 

 

4

4

2

3

18

People orientation

4

 

 

3

 

 

1

 

8

Innovation

 

 

 

1

5

5

 

4

15

Problem solving

 

3

 

 

 

3

 

5

11

Receiving feedback

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

2

Collaboration and teamwork

5

2

 

 

3

 

 

 

10

 

Disadvantages

Nominal group technique or Multi voting should not be used for options prioritization where there are definite quantitative assessments, guidelines. NGT should also not used when the leaders/ managers involved in process do not have adequate knowledge, experience and also how the results are going to help.

 

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Multi Voting is used for decision-making to narrow down a very large list of ideas to a smaller one. It is generally done after brainstorming, as brainstorming generates a large number of ideas. In Multi Voting all members of the team have an equal vote thus weak members cannot be overpowered by strong members. Multi Voting allows for an item that is the choice of many, but not the top choice of any of the members to get selected. It is also called Nominal Group Technique (NGT)

Steps

·       Generate a list of ideas and display them (maybe after Brainstorming)

·       Combine similar ideas into groups (may use Affinity mapping)

·       Give an Id to each item such as alphabets or numbers.

·       Decide how many items each person is to vote for (generally 1/3rd)

·       Tally votes

·       Eliminate items with few votes. (Generally, depends upon the group size)

·       Have a brief discussion.

·       Repeat process till decision arrived at.

Benefits

Helps to narrow down a large number of ideas/problems in a systematic and democratic manner

All members have an equal vote.

Powerful and outspoken members cannot overpower weak and introverted members.

Popular

It is popular because it is a very easy and democratic process.

Pitfalls or Limitations

Members with lesser experience or/and professional knowledge have an equal vote as compared to members who have more experience and greater professional knowledge.

If team members are from various domains, various experience levels, multi-voting can lead to a sub-optimal decision.

Example

There are 15 Green/Black Belt Certified employees in ABC Enterprises. The Departmental Heads consisting of Rashmi, Ted, Prakash, Murthy, and Anita have to select three employees who have to attend a two-week Black Belt Six Sigma Training Workshop. After having a discussion on the experience, skills, etc of each candidate, they carry out Multi-Voting to decide on the three candidates. Multi Voting is done in two stages since Stage 1 had a tie between 4 candidates. The results are given below:

image.png.9e6fdf577d70d99865a623da2de062f2.png

 

image.png.afe107553ae1d6aee4659564bdcd2a71.png

image.png.05fb3cdbae842ee0bd864de9013b95fb.png

References

https://asq.org/quality-resources/multivoting

https://sixsigmastudyguide.com/multivoting/

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Multi-voting is a structured method for group brainstorming that encourages contribution from everyone and helps with decision making without getting into arguments. Encourages consensus and agreement on relative importance of issues, problems, or solutions.

 

When to use:

  • When teams have a long list of possibilities and teams must narrow their options into a manageable size that can be discussed
  • When teams must decide on which options should be given priority
  • When some members are much more vocal than others or some members think better in silence
  • When group does not generate quantities of ideas
  • When all or some group members are new to the team and/or some members not participating

 

Steps: We have recently used this technique for the process deep dive where teams across the organization had their individual long list of irritants which was leading to delays in prioritizing actions. It was also leading to conflict. We followed following steps to create a nominal based prioritization.

 

  • Preparation – A good preparation that explains the purpose and expected outcome. Ensure participation from all relevant stakeholders and most important, schedule well ahead of time.
  • Idea generation - Generate list of options by every participant. Several ways of achieving this, we can take offline feedback, round robin collection, via individual posts etc.
  • Discussion of the ideas - Create clarity for each option amongst the participant, allow questions and queries to create deep understanding of each idea
  • Voting – Number each idea and allow each member to Vote and rank in priority. We used for our brainstorming 5 votes per participant. As we are in virtual times with Covid, ensure everyone understands how to vote digitally, and has used their voting rights successfully.
  • Discussion on initial voting - Tally results and review top choices. This is an important step as it helps realize the top problems. As well it might happen that a particular top issue is not perceived as important as it felts during discussions.
  • Final voting – This steps is required if there is high number of choices and need further narrowing down.

 

Benefits:

  • Promotes participation and team engagement
  • Eliminates arguments, gives fair chance to all
  • Allows teams to select most important items
  • Allows groups to narrow options into manageable size
  • Saves group time by focusing on greatest potential
  • Prioritizes a list of options following of brainstorming session

 

Pitfalls/limitations:

  • Voting gets skewed if the team is unequally represented, sometimes one division may have subdivisions and more representation than others
  • Risk of voting being perception and feeling based instead of it being fact driven
  • If the team members are not well informed or have the knowledge of the subject
  • During the brainstorming, some members may not get time to share all their ideas

 

End goal:

 

Multi-voting is a great visual tool as everyone can see what everyone else in the group considers as important. Result is to get a list of options, not necessarily to make an actual decision or have one specific option that everyone agrees on, but really is to get a list of options that are more specific and more narrowed down. And, also to create a discussion on options with highest priority.

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Multivoting is a technique used for making decision in a group that focus on reducing the long list of ideas to manageable numbers through a structured series of votes. This technique helps identify and prioritize ideas that are worthy and needs immediate attention. Though this technique is simple, easy to use and not time consuming. There is no assurance that a consensus would be reached which is the disadvantage. 

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Multi voting  is a decision making method, to gain consensus in a group having a large list of choices to select and priorities. It helps to select the choice which is favored by most in the individuals in a group. It involves following steps:

 

  1. Brainstorm the list of ideas
  2. Discuss the idea with the group participants so that everyone understand it.
  3. All participants then vote for the ideas. Generally they rank the ideas by assigning a number for each idea.
  4. The votes are then counted (or rank are summed) and ideas having highest votes (or rank sum) are selected.

 

Its benefits include team engagement and consensus and is especially useful for large teams and when we have a long list of ideas. However it is possible that no consensus is reached in the voting. We can then assign weights and repeat the voting process if required.

 

For  example.

If we want to increase the sales of the company product, the possible ideas can be:  giving more discounts, reduce the prices, better services , etc. To select the top 2 ideas, we can ask the group members to rank the ideas which are then summed. The ideas having highest sum will be picked to improve the sales.

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This was a tough choice as there are answers which explain multi-voting well but without an example and vice versa. Considering that the question explicitly asked for an example, the winning answer has been selected from Chaitanya Shankar Nemani.

 

Plus there is another common limitation in multi-voting - Bias. Voting can be influenced.

 

Finally, while there is a school of thought that believes multi-voting and NGT are same (and some of your answers did reflect that), there is another that feels otherwise. While both the tools appear to be similar, they are different. I guess it is obvious as to which school I belong to :)

 

P.S. The 2 different thought schools were not a part of decision criteria.

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