Whenever a group is discussing a possible solution or coming to a decision on any matter, consensus is a tool excellent facilitators turn to. Following is a consensus-building technique I wrote up originally in 2001.
Start by restating a decision the group may make and ask everyone to show their level of support. Each person should responds by showing a fist or a number of fingers that corresponds to their opinion.
- Fist is a no vote – a way to block consensus. It says, “I need to talk more on the proposal and require changes for it to pass.”
- 1 Finger says, “I still need to discuss certain issues and suggest changes that should be made.”
- 2 Fingers says, “I am more comfortable with the proposal but would like to discuss some minor issues.”
- 3 Fingers says, “I’m not in total agreement but feel comfortable to let this decision or a proposal pass without further discussion.”
- 4 Fingers says, “I think it’s a good idea/decision and will work for it.”
- 5 Fingers says, “It’s a great idea and I will be one of the leaders in implementing it.”
If anyone holds up fewer than three fingers, they should be given the opportunity to state their objections and the team should address their concerns. Continue the Fist-to-Five process until participants achieve consensus, which is a minimum of three fingers or higher, or determine they must move on to the next issue.