Skip links

Group Decision Making



Working in groups, there are many ways to make decisions. Sometimes it helps to first gain insight into the response to an idea, and identify areas of support and resistance.

  • A facilitator can use the Fist to Five tool for consensus building. A fist or a 1 means a no vote, and two or more fingers is a yes, with an indication of how positive a yes it is.


Fist to Five Process:

  • Think about a proposal your group is considering—one that has already been discussed. To gain insight into the degree of agreement with the proposal, take a vote using Fist to Five.
  • First, ask people to raise their hands high with the number of fingers that indicate their degree of agreement with the proposal. Then, everyone can take a look around to gauge the general opinion of the group.
  • If there are people with fists or one finger raised, ask them to share their objections and offer possible solutions to overcome their objections. Then, take a second and final vote.
  • Using Fist to Five can save a lot of time in the early stages of a proposal. For example, if an early check reveals all 4 and 5 fingers, meaning no one would block consensus, the group can move forward to address other issues.


  • What is the existing level of trust in the group?: When perceived risk is high, groups may need more discussion to reach agreement. If trust is high, alignment may be readily acceptable. In alignment, all parties are prepared to support a decision even if it is not their first choice.
  • What methods do you regularly use to make decisions? 
  • How are decisions typically made in your community?
  • Take time to step back and assess what you’re currently doing:
    • What works well?
    • What would you do differently?
    • What additional support do you need?