Five Finger Consensus

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Identification
Alternative names: 
Fist-to-Five
Level of process: 
Method
Method category: 
Intent or purpose: 
To help a group achieve consensus WITHOUT having to water down a strongly supported solution
Used as component of: 
Any meeting in which consensus is desired. Especially helpful with community groups
Recommended size of group: 
26-50
Optimal amount of time needed: 
5 minutes per "vote" followed by a 1-2 minute discussion
Howto
Usual or Expected Outcomes: 
It moves the emphasis on those who disagree to convince the majority. (Traditional consensus commonly works the other way!)
Level of participation: 
High
Potential Pitfalls: 
5-Finger Consensus does not guarantee full agreement. It does, however, guarantee that each person has the opportunity to be heard, and heard well.
Level of Difficulty to Facilitate: 
Facilitation skills required
Procedures: 

Five-finger consensus is designed to encourage significant agreement without jeopardizing the quality of the solution. Here's how it works.
 Once an alternative is proposed and discussed, and the group is ready to check for agreement, the facilitator does the following. The facilitator explains that on the count of three, each person should hold up between one and five fingers indicating the level of support for the recommendation on the table.
- 5 ? Strongly agree
- 4 ? Agree
- 3 ? Can see pluses and minuses, but willing to go along with the group
- 2 ? Disagree
- 1 ? Strongly disagree and can?t support
 If everyone shows a 5, 4 or 3, consensus has been reached, and we can move ahead. If there are any 1s or 2s, those who indicate such are given the opportunity to explain to the rest of the group why they gave the rating and make recommendations to change the alternative in order to make it acceptable to them. The originator of the alternative has the option to make the change or leave the option as it is and explains the decision to the rest of the group.
 Then the facilitator tests five-finger consensus again. If everyone shows a 5, 4, 3 or 2, the decision is made, and we can move ahead. If there are any 1s, those who indicate such are given the opportunity to explain to the rest of the group why they gave the rating and make recommendations to change the alternative in order to make it acceptable to them. Once more, the originator of the alternative has the option to make the change or leave the option as it is and explains the decision to the rest of the group.
 In the final review, majority rules. The decision is made based on the majority of the participants.
 Five-finger consensus encourages the group to listen carefully when there is disagreement; and, in fact, encourages listening carefully twice if necessary. But the technique doesn?t allow a solution to be watered down because a few disagree. Though admittedly there may be one or two who don?t like the alternative, our belief is that five-finger consensus helps ensure that they all are heard, and heard well.

Background
Developer: 
Michael Wilkinson (adapted from other techniques)
Suppliers
Creators: 
Trainers: 
Namesort descending City Country
Spectrum Management Denver United States
Consultants: 
Namesort descending City Country
Spectrum Management Denver United States
Online: 
Supporters: