Write a list of possible activities/outcomes on flip-chart paper.
Using a marker, invite each person in your group to mark a tick next to a limited number of options, eg a maximum of three.
The option(s) that receives the most number of votes is recorded as the favourite.
How To Play Narrative
Tired of always making the decisions for your group? Here’s a very simple way to get your group involved and help them assume a little ownership of their journey.
Grab a large sheet of paper or flip-chart paper and write a list of all of the possible options available to your group.
For example, it’s raining outside and your ordinary program has been interrupted. Given the space and equipment available to you inside, you can think of at least six different activity options that your group would enjoy. But you’re not sure which one will hit the spot.
Assemble your group in front of this list and announce that you would like them to decide what they are going to do next. Explain that each person will soon be able to vote for their favourite option.
You may ask, why not just ask your group to raise their hands? You could do this, but I like this strategy because it’s more interesting, not to mention, more engaging.
Distribute one or more pens and ask each person to mark a tick, cross or some sign next to their favourite one, two or three options. If you invite multiple options, it’s simpler to assign the “one-tick-one-vote” rule, which is just another way of saying, all votes are equal, ie priority does not matter.
If you invite multiple votes, it is not necessary for all votes to be cast. If an individual really only likes one of the options, then they are entitled to cast just one vote.
Once everyone has cast their vote(s,) tally them and identify the one, two or three most popular options.
Your group has cast their vote, you’re now ready to move on with confidence that most people are happy with the result.
Practical Leadership Tips
Some groups will need a more structured framework within which to make a decision. For example, if it has already been established that the group needs to focus on building trusting relationships, then provide them with a series of options that achieve this outcome.
Be prepared for the possibility of a tied result. If this event would present a problem for you, then have a Plan B up your sleeve. For example, conduct a second poll involving just these two options to determine a winner.
In the context of effective facilitation, it is not necessary to involve your group in the programmatic decision-making process. However, an exercise such as this can empower them to take ownership of the program’s outcome as much as demonstrate a useful democratic tool.
It stands to reason that you should not list any option that you would not be happy with, or could result in an unproductive outcome for your group.
Beware the possibility of opening an argument about the result. I’m a big believer in the providence of resting the programmatic decisions in the hands of the facilitator. So, be open to the possibility that your group may be more willing to accept what you decide is best for them rather than the group majority.
You could integrate You Choose as part of a well-designed SEL program to promote and maintain healthy and supportive relationships and to effectively navigate settings with diverse people.
Specifically, this activity offers ample opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
Health & Wellness Programming
There is no specific health & wellness perspective to this activity other than promoting the benefits to one’s wellbeing of being and feeling heard, acknowledged and valued.
In a small way, you could argue that the focus required to successfully make a group decision using this technique speaks to the benefits of effective goal-setting as much as developing positive and supportive group behavioural norms.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which You Choose could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Moving Election: Write each option on a single sheet of paper, and visibly pin these sheets in different areas of your room/space. Then, invite your group to move to one or more sheets to record their votes. If you have a large group, this works best because it dilutes the congestion around a single sheet of paper.
Deposit Your Vote: Assign each option an empty receptacle such as a tin or jar. Distribute one or more stones or other small objects to each person in your group, and invite them to place them in the receptacle belonging to their favourite options.
Accountability: If knowing who voted for what is important, invite individuals to write their name (rather than just add a tick mark) to record their favourite options.
Elimination Final: Frame the voting to determine which options will be eliminated from possibility.
Take a look at Twenty One, a more powerful and democratically inspired decision-making strategy.
Open the Virtual Adaptation tab to learn how to present this activity online.
Use a (free) screen sharing software (such as Whiteboardfox or Google Docs) as if it was an electronic flipchart. Instruct your group to learn how to write on the asynchronous screen, and then invite people to tick or annotate their preferred options.
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Useful Framing Ideas
Sometimes, I have many ideas about what is best for my group. Today is one of those days, so I’m going to give you some power over that decision. Yes, that’s right, I’m going to let you choose what you do next…
In a true democracy, everyone is given the chance to express their views and opinions in an effort to shape the result. This works in democratic elections as much as many more smaller decisions. Today, I’m going to give you the opportunity to vote on what we’ll do today…
Reflection Tips & Strategies
Coupled with one or more reflection strategies, here are some sample questions you could use to process your group’s experience after using this simple group decision-making tool:
How did it feel to have a say about what your group would do today?
Were you surprised by the results? Why?
Are you happy with the result? Can you respect or accept it?
How does this exercise compare to your group’s typical decision-making process?
The inspiration for You Choose was sourced from Ryan Eller, one of playmeo’s many enthusiastic members.