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Five-Finger Voting

Main Takeaways
Reading Time: 2 minutes Five-Finger-Voting is a simple version of the group decision Five-to-Fold facilitation for decision-making. A group has to decide in a very short time on a proposal and possible alternatives to solve the issue.

Description of Five-Finger Voting

Five-Finger Voting is a voting format to agree upon alternatives after they are discussed extensively. To create the alternative proposals for group decisions, there are other formats.

Five-Finger Voting is an elaborated variant of Thumb Voting which is a simple version of the Five-to-Fold format for decision-making. A group has to decide in a very short time on a proposal and possible alternatives to solve the issue.

The participants debated extensively the proposal and it's alternatives in a discussion up-front, e.g. in a Five-to-Fold facilitation. Now, it is time to decide. — You can vote with Five Fingers or with Coulored Cards.

When a group is asked to take a decision, the members try to find a common level of agreement by either democratic voting or consensus-based decision-making. In case of consensus-based decisioning seldom all people agree equally to the decision found. Instead, they commit themselves to a level of personal agreement.


Rules of Five-Finger Voting

One out of the group

  • Explains the issue shortly.
  • Offers the solution.
  • Fields questions — only short answers — no discussion.
  • Asks the group for finger-voting:
    • Folding – no fingers: You want to block the proposal because you believe it’s damaging.
    • One finder: You have serious reservations but will not block or subvert the effort. You also commit to open communication regarding your reservations.
    • Two fingers: You have important reservations but will support the initiative.
    • Three fingers: You’re on board.
    • Four fingers: You give strong support and active participation, but you’re not willing to lead the initiative.
    • Five fingers: You’re all-in and prepared to own the project. You’ll take the lead if asked.



  • Folding is not a failure — its part of the process,
  • Forced consensus drives dissent underground.
  • Real consensus is never achieved by sacrificing your values or strongly held beliefs.

In case of dissent (i.e. three fingers and less) go back to Five-to-Fold facilitation:

  • Remain flexible.
  • Seek to be useful.
  • Stay calm.
  • Invite conversation.
  • Address problems.
  • Develop alternatives.
  • Expand possibilities.
  • Take another’s perspective.
  • Clarify mission and vision.
  • Explore options.
  • Find acceptable levels of unity without browbeating dissenters.

When to use Five-Finger Voting

  • There is an issue to solve.
  • There is a proposal (and alternatives) as a solution.
  • There is a group, the participants, that has the authority to decide.
  • There is only very short time.