Fist of five feature image

Fist of Five

Facilitative technique to check for degree of consensus buy-in.

The Fist of Five Consensus Check

This technique provides five levels of the gradient to reflect the degree of buy-in from the group. All participants vote at the same time.

  • Five fingers “Cheerleader” – This is an excellent proposal. I will champion this.
  • Four fingers “Enthusiastic Supporter” – I am happy with the outcome and support this proposal.
  • Three fingers “Cautious Supporter” – Given the information, time, and people we had, this is a proposal that I can live with. I will continue to support this proposal beyond this meeting.
  • Two fingers “Devil’s advocate” – I have some concerns to share; if these are addressed, I can move to a 3 or 4 or even 5-finger support.
  • One finger (index finger only ;): We do not have the right people or information to make this decision today. Let’s meet again when we are better prepared.

Allowing for a gradient of support helps groups discover their overall commitment to a proposal. A decision where everyone is at three (3) is probably not good because this may indicate that there is no champion or enthusiastic supporter of this decision. On the other hand, having someone raise two (2) fingers helps the group to refine and fine-tune their proposal.

The facilitator’s role is to make space for people to express their thinking so that the group can make the best possible decision.

Fist of Five is an effective consensus-building technique. However, consensus may not be the correct decision protocol for every situation. This companion article, Decide How You Are Going to Decide, helps leaders choose the correct decision-making protocol for different situations.


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