Dot-mocracy, also known as dot-voting, is a simple method for group prioritisation and decision-making that lets people vote on their chosen options using a limited number of dot stickers. Dot-mocracy is a transparent, flexible and participatory decision-making technique that every facilitator should have in their toolkit.
As a group, it can sometimes be tricky to prioritise from a long list of options in a way that provides an equal way for all the voices in a group to be heard. Dot-mocracy provides a way to leverage the collective wisdom of the team and is useful for making quick, collaborative decisions. It helps people quickly recognise their shared preferences which can then lead to the development of ideas that have collective buy-in.
This technique can be used at any stage of the design process but is best used where prioritisation or decision-making is the aim. As a way of converging, it is often used following a divergent, idea generation process, for example - narrowing down on the top ideas from a Crazy Eights exercise.
To start with, you’ll need to display the collected ideas in a way so that all ideas are visible. For this, it can be a good idea to stick the ideas up on a board. However, too many options can sometimes be overwhelming. In this case, it can be a good idea to consolidate and group similar ideas together, also known as affinity mapping.
Participants then need to be given an equal, set number of votes. As a general rule of thumb, give each participant a number of votes equal to roughly a quarter of the total number of options available. For voting, round, dot stickers are most commonly used but any stickers will do the job. For cost-sensitive or impromptu cases, votes can simply be made with a mark of a pen instead. If using a virtual board like Mural or Miro, they should have an in-built dot voting function to allow participants to mark the top ideas.
Before the vote, remind participants of the purpose and value of the voting exercise - for example, why are they voting and how will the outcome be used?
Now, participants can place their dot stickers next to the options presented that they like. Ideally, participants should cast their votes quietly, without conversation, in order to avoid the influence of loud or senior people in the room. In voting for the different options, participants can distribute their votes in any way they wish. For example, if a participant has five votes, they can place all five dots on one idea or they could place a dot on five different ideas.
Once everyone has voted, you’ll need to count the votes to see what the most highly ranked ideas are. At this stage, it might be helpful to re-organise the ideas to easily see the top ideas. If there is a tie among top options, or if further prioritisation is needed, the group can vote again to establish a clear winner.
Depending on the goal of the dot-mocracy exercise, participants can then converge and discuss why they have voted for particular options or assess the next steps now that a collective ranking has been achieved. As a team, it is important to map out the next steps following a vote.
There are a number of variations that can be used to complement the standard dot-mocracy process. These include: