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Roman Voting: A Fast Way to Confirm a Decision

May 9, 20241 min

The Roman Voting technique is one of the decision-making frameworks I use most often with teams, in the classroom¹ and with my consulting clients.  I believe that Roman Voting has become my go-to framework when I need to confirm a group has reached a decision because it’s so simple, so fast and so fun!

How Does Roman Voting Work?

Roman Voting is a simple up or down vote made with thumbs².  Although many thoughtful Agile practitioners that I admire (here and here and here) use a version  which allows people to vote with their thumbs sideways, I do not use that variation.  For me, I feel that a sideways vote confuses Roman Voting with the Decider\Resolution protocol.

So, if you are looking for a “clean” Roman Voting technique, here are the steps:

  1. Everyone votes at the same time.  Thumbs up signifies a “yes” (or agreement) while thumbs down signifies a “no” (or disagreement).
  2. Count the number of thumbs up and thumbs down.  Depending on the decision-making rule (consensus or majority rules), the proposal either passes or fails.

It’s as simple as that! 

1 – Fun Fact: Believe it or not, many of our alumni have shared with me that the Roman Voting technique was one of the most memorable and useful things they had learned in the course.  We talk about a lot of things in our courses, so I’m a little surprised this is what people remember…but OK!  I’ll take the win! \o/

2 – Another Fun Fact: I used to tell the learners that this technique was how the fate of the gladiators was decided in Ancient Rome.  (However, in fact this is incorrect!)