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What is Multivoting?

Quality Glossary Definition: Multivoting

Also called: nominal group technique (NGT) voting, nominal prioritization

Variations: sticking dots, weighted voting, multiple picking-out method (MPM)

Multivoting, a decision making method, narrows a large list of possibilities to a smaller list of the top priorities or to a final selection. Multivoting is preferable to straight voting because it allows an item that is favored by all, but not the top choice of any, to rise to the top.

When to Use Multivoting

  • After brainstorming or some other expansion tool has been used to generate a long list of possibilities
  • When the list must be narrowed down
  • When the decision must be made by group judgment

Multivoting Procedure

Materials needed: Flipchart or whiteboard, marking pens, 5-10 slips of paper for each individual, and pen or pencil for each individual.

  1. Display the list of options. Combine duplicate items. Affinity diagrams can be useful to organize large numbers of ideas and eliminate duplication and overlap. List reduction may also be useful.
  2. Number (or letter) all items.
  3. Decide how many items must be on the final list. Also decide how many choices each member will vote for—usually, five choices are allowed. The longer the original list, the more votes will be allowed, up to 10.
  4. Working individually, each member selects the five items (or whatever number of choices is allowed) he or she thinks is most important. Then each member ranks the choices in order of priority, with the first choice ranking highest. For example, if each member has five votes, the top choice would be ranked five, the next choice four, and so on. Each choice is written on a separate paper, with the ranking underlined in the lower right corner.
  5. Tally votes. Collect the papers, shuffle them, then record on a flipchart or whiteboard. The easiest way to record votes is for the scribe to write all the individual rankings next to each choice. For each item, the rankings are totaled next to the individual rankings.
  6. If a decision is clear, stop here. Otherwise, continue with a brief discussion of the vote. The purpose of the discussion is to look at dramatic voting differences, such as an item that received both 5 and 1 ratings, and avoid errors from incorrect information or understandings about the item. The discussion should not result in pressure on anyone to change their vote.
  7. Repeat the voting process in steps 4 and 5. If greater decision-making accuracy is required, this voting may be done by weighting the relative importance of each choice on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being most important.

Multivoting Example

A team had to develop a list of key customers to interview. First, team members brainstormed a list of possible names. Since they wanted representation of customers in three different departments, they divided the list into three groups. Within each group, they used multivoting to identify four first-choice interviewees. This example shows the multivoting for one department.

Fifteen of the brainstormed names were in that department. Each team member was allowed five votes, giving five points to the top choice, four to the second choice, and so on down to one point for the fifth choice. The votes and tally are shown in Figure 1. Although several of the choices emerge as agreed favorites, significant differences are indicated by the number of choices that have both high and low rankings. The team will discuss the options to ensure that everyone has the same information, and then vote again.

Multivoting Example

Figure 1: Multivoting Example

Adapted from The Quality Toolbox, Second Edition, ASQ Quality Press.

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