fist to five

making decisions efficiently

At The Village, like in many community homes, we strive to be non-hierarchical in our decision-making. This means that we want every resident to get an equal say into how the house is run. Since there are 15 adults in the house, this can sometimes result in long and tedious debates about small things that prevent us from getting things done. We avoid some of this slow-down by using a system we call fist to five.

Here’s how it works: After a proposal is suggested, people vote on a scale of 0-5 that indicates their degree of agreement with the proposal. This can look like emoji reactions on Slack (we use a channel called #village-decisions) or an in-person meeting where people raise their hands high with the relevant number of fingers.

This system is more complicated than a simple yes/no vote, but it provides a lot more information to help with decision-making. The votes can be used in a variety of ways, such as:

Fist to five is great because it very quickly gives everyone a sense of how people feel about the proposal. If used early in the proposal dialogue, a group might find all 4s and 5s except for two 1s, which could mean the proposal is accepted, or perhaps the decision isn’t considered blocked but two people have needs to be met. Only those people would speak and have their objections addressed, which can save a lot of time.

I love decision-making models that are non-hierarchical and value each person’s opinion, but processes that guarantee this can sometimes feel slow or tedious. Voting with a fist to five lets a group build a somewhat nuanced understanding of where everyone is at, and it accomplishes this in under a minute. What’s not to love about that?

This post was modified from a write-up on ncfp and was published on supernuclear.