Use “Vote & Discuss” for an Engaging Meeting

To encourage engagement in a book club or a community of practice meeting, have everyone vote before you start a conversation.

It’s a lot easier for people to agree with what everyone else is saying, or just stay quiet, but if they have to vote first, then you can have more conversation about where the group has variances in how they voted. 

Depending on what tools you’re using, you can vote anonymously, or you can have team members vote in such a way that you know who voted for what. The advantage of the latter is that you can call on people to ask them why they voted the way that they did. Of course, you don’t want anyone to get defensive or dislike the workshop, so this will depend on the topic and how close-knit your group is. 

There’s also multiple types of voting: straight voting, where each person gets up to x votes that they can ‘spend’, or ranked voting, where they can choose their 1st place option, 2nd place option, and so on. Each has their place, depending on the topic. I’ve got examples of both.

Example 1: Ranked Voting for Art of Product Management

I already wrote an article about time where I used ranked voting after reading The Art of Product Management (blog post).

Each team member had a sticky note with their name on it, and then stickies with 1 to 6 on them next to their name. Each team member had a designated color.

They took their stickies with 1 to 6 on them and put them next to each of the 6 categories from the article, with 1 being the ‘highest’ rated category and 6 being the ‘lowest’ rated category. 

You can see, for example, that many team members felt they were strong at critical thinking, while others felt that consciousness was an area of opportunity for learning. Creativity was middle-of-the-road for many. However, in each case, there were outliers, which made for interesting discussion.

Example 2: Ranked Voting for No Time for Discovery?

We used a very similar mechanism after reading No Time for Discovery? Here’s How to Fix It, which led to a great conversation and a follow-up brainstorm on how to improve our efficiencies.

As in the previous example, each color of sticky (on the left, below) had individual’s names on them and originally had a stack of stickies with numbers next to it; 1 was high and 8 was low.

Example 3: Straight Voting for How to Rethink Marketing

Here’s an example of ‘straight voting’: each person had three votes, and then we discussed. Trying to do rank voting would have taken a long time, and as this was just one exercise of many we were trying to get to, a quicker voting mechanism made much more sense. 

This is from the book Loved: How to Rethink Marketing for Tech Products by Martina Launchengco, and was done as part of a book club between our product marketing team and a few members of our marketing team. 

In each case, highlighting where team members were most aligned or far from aligned led to great conversations. 

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