The Power of Collective Decision-Making

Written By: Rei Takako
Proofread By: MSI Staff

In group decision-making and brainstorming, finding a efficient and fair method can often feel like navigating through a maze.

Among the various techniques that organizations and teams employ, one stands out for its simplicity, inclusivity, and effectiveness: Multivoting, also known as Nominal Group Technique (NGT) voting or nominal prioritization.

This method transcends traditional decision-making processes by offering a structured approach to narrowing down a wide range of options or ideas to a manageable few, based on the collective preference of the group.

Let’s delve into the essence of multivoting, its procedure, benefits, and practical applications, illuminating why it is a preferred choice for many.

What is Multivoting?

Multivoting is a democratic and participatory decision-making process used by groups to prioritize a large list of options, ideas, or solutions. It’s a component of the Nominal Group Technique, a broader group process involving the generation, discussion, and prioritization of ideas. Multivoting allows every group member to cast votes on a list of items, aiming to reach a consensus on the most important or preferred items. This technique is handy in settings where there are too many options to consider effectively or when there is a need to achieve a broad agreement among participants.

How Does Multivoting Work?

The multivoting process typically follows these steps:

  1. Idea Generation: The group generates a comprehensive list of ideas, options, or issues to be addressed. This can be done through various means, including brainstorming sessions.

  2. Discussion: Each item on the list is discussed to ensure that all members clearly understand what each entails. Clarification questions are encouraged, but extensive debates are usually avoided at this stage to keep the process moving smoothly.

  3. Voting: Participants are given a set number of votes (often fewer than the number of items on the list). They can allocate their votes to the items they believe are most important, urgent, or viable. Votes can be distributed in any way the voter prefers, sometimes placing more than one vote on a particularly important item.

  4. Tallying Votes: The votes are counted, and items are ranked based on the number of votes they receive. The top-ranked items with the most votes become the focus of further discussion or action.

  5. Decision Making: Depending on the goal of the multivoting process, the highest-ranked items may be selected for immediate action, further analysis, or to undergo a second round of voting if the group needs to narrow the options further.

Benefits of Multivoting

Efficiency: Multivoting quickly narrows down a broad field of options to a manageable number, saving time and focusing efforts on what matters most to the group.

Inclusivity: Every participant has an equal say in the process, making it a democratic approach to decision-making. This can increase buy-in and commitment to the final decisions.

Reduction of Bias: By focusing on the ideas rather than the individuals who proposed them, multivoting can help reduce personal biases and politics that often influence group decisions.

Versatility: This technique can be adapted to a wide range of settings, from corporate strategy sessions to community planning meetings, and can be conducted in person or virtually.

Practical Applications

Multivoting has been successfully applied in various contexts, including strategic planning, project management, team building, and even in educational settings to decide on study topics or project themes. It’s particularly effective when groups need to prioritize tasks, solve complex problems, or decide to allocate limited resources.

How it's used in Six Sigma

In the context of Six Sigma, a methodology aimed at improving business processes through statistical analysis and reduction of variability, multivoting becomes an essential tool for facilitating decision-making and prioritization among project teams. Six Sigma projects often involve cross-functional teams tasked with identifying, analyzing, and solving quality problems within an organization’s operations. Here’s how multivoting is integrated into the Six Sigma framework to enhance its effectiveness:

Identifying Critical Issues

Six Sigma projects begin with the Define phase, where the project scope and objectives are established. Multivoting can be employed here to prioritize which problems or process improvements the project should focus on. By involving team members from various departments, multivoting ensures that the issues selected for improvement reflect a consensus on what will most significantly impact the organization’s objectives.

Streamlining the DMAIC Process

The DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) methodology is central to Six Sigma, guiding teams through the steps necessary to achieve process improvements. Multivoting can be particularly useful during the Analyze phase, where potential causes of defects are identified, and during the Improve phase, where solutions are proposed. Teams can use multivoting to select the most likely root causes of problems and agree on which solutions to implement, ensuring that efforts are concentrated on the changes expected to bring the most benefit.

Decision Making in DMAIC

  • Define: Determine which projects or problems to address.
  • Measure: Choose which metrics or data sources are most critical to analyze.
  • Analyze: Prioritize root causes of defects or issues to focus on.
  • Improve: Select the best solutions or process improvements to implement.
  • Control: Decide which control measures will most effectively sustain the improvements.


Enhancing Team Collaboration

Multivoting in Six Sigma projects promotes a collaborative environment by giving each team member a voice in decision-making. This not only helps in building consensus but also in ensuring that the team’s decisions are balanced and take into account diverse perspectives. Such inclusivity can increase team members’ commitment to the project’s success and facilitate smoother implementation of improvements.

Increasing Efficiency and Focus

By narrowing down options and focusing on the most impactful issues, multivoting helps Six Sigma teams to utilize their resources more effectively. It prevents the common pitfall of spreading efforts too thinly across too many projects or improvement areas. This focused approach ensures that projects deliver meaningful, measurable improvements in quality and performance.

In Six Sigma, multivoting is a powerful tool for prioritizing and making decisions efficiently. Its use within the DMAIC framework ensures that teams can effectively identify and concentrate their efforts on the most significant issues, root causes, and solutions. By fostering a democratic and inclusive environment, multivoting helps Six Sigma teams to achieve consensus and engage all members in the process improvement journey, ultimately leading to more successful outcomes.


Multivoting or NGT voting stands as a beacon of collaborative decision-making, embodying principles of democracy, inclusivity, and efficiency. By effectively narrowing down options and fostering consensus, it empowers groups to make informed decisions that reflect its members’ collective wisdom and preferences. As organizations and teams continue to seek methods that enhance participation and streamline decision-making, multivoting shines as a versatile and powerful tool to navigate the complexities of collective choice.

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