One of the most effective workshopping techniques that helps democratize the design process in almost any type of workshop is voting. Voting is a simple decision making activity in which each person in a group is given a number of tokens, dots that each can be assigned to some option or set of options.
You can use that voting to decide upon research efforts, assess user insights to further explore, narrow down your design ideas and even rank or gather information on any topic before prioritizing. Here’s how you do it. First, you need something to vote on in the first place. Maybe that’s a set of sticky notes or a list on a whiteboard, then give people an equal number of dots, sometimes referred to as tokens, while every person starts out with the same number and value of dots. So maybe that’s one vote, one token, one vote, two tokens. These dots can have different values. So think of these almost like voting currency. Once everyone has their currency, they’re dots. The most important part, voting. Voting takes place quietly. Talking can only start back up once all the votes are placed. No campaigning or lobbying for votes should be allowed with or without talking body language included. Once everyone is place votes, go ahead and tally up the votes to see which option. One, you’ll have a nice heat map with lots of dots indicating more heat or more votes to reference. If you need to break any ties, you can revote, but only vote on the top two to four options from the previous round. Then you can decide upon a winner. This seems like a waste of time and materials. Why bother when we can just talk about it and decide as a group? I’m glad you asked if you or anyone in your group is anything like me. Someone who likes to bounce ideas off others or think aloud, then you are prone to talking over others dominated conversations and not letting people have time to think or speak up about their own possibly differing opinions. So a group is a lot more vulnerable to the effects of groupthink as a result. And it’s not just loud. People are talkative people who can cause groupthink either. There’s also the hippo effect, the highest paid person’s opinion. If management or other influential stakeholders are in the room, these folks may severely sway the opinions of others or otherwise sway what folks choose to say aloud because of their seniority or their rank in the organization. With Democratic evaluation, voters all have the same amount of influence and therefore their voices, their votes carry the same weight, allowing you to truly maximize participation and input. And if there’s still a risk of stakeholder sway, you can have them vote. Last Dopp voting is effective, but if you still feel like there are some extenuating reasons why people may not want to vote in front of others, or maybe voting must be anonymous for other reasons, then consider using an online forum for these types of special cases. As for waste and time and resources, the real time waste lies in arguing and disagreements leading to tangential conversations in between decisions. Voting can help us use decision making time way more efficiently. And if your resources are limited and you don’t have sticky notes or dots, you don’t have to use them.
A plus one or a plus two written in pen or marker works just fine. Voting is a great way to democratize the design process, preserve diversity of perspectives and really expedite the decision making process so that you can focus on creating the best possible design for your customers.