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Michael Norton (doc) is Director of Engineering for Groupon in Chicago, IL. Michael's experience covers a wide range of development topics. Michael declares expertise in no single language or methodology and is immediately suspicious of anyone who declares such expertise. Michael is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 41 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Fist to Five

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Introduction and Use

Quick Check

Fist to Five (a.k.a. Fist of Five) is a simple tool for measuring level of agreement in a team. Often, this is far more expedient than discourse, even among those in agreement. Secondarily, it helps to overcome “silence means consent” for teams where this may be an issue. This is not a replacement for discussion, merely a way of getting a quick check to determine if more discussion is actually warranted.

Clear, binary options

The Fist to Five process works best for clear, binary choices. “Should we use git?”,works just fine. It is a relatively clear mostly yes or no question. “Which do you prefer - git, mercurial, or SVN?”, doesn’t work well. Too many options. “Would you like cake?” is also not a great option. One option, but too vague. “Would you like chocolate cake with strawberry frosting?” is better.

How To


For any simple question, such as the ones described as appropriate above, ask the team for a Fist to Five vote. Everyone raises a fist above their head (preferably their own fist). At the count of 3, everyone reveals their vote. Based on the votes, it is usually easy to tell if the item is accepted, rejected, or more discussion is warranted.

All 3 and above, the proposal is passed. Move on.
All 2 or below, the proposal is dead. Move on.
A mix of votes from fist to 5, the proposal needs more discussion. Carry on.


A vote is a hand gesture that indicates your current level of support for the topic.
Fist “I Disagree. I require changes before I can agree.”
One “This needs more discussion. I have change suggestions.”
Two “I desire more discussion. I have minor concerns.”
Three “I am not in total agreement. I can support this.”
Four “I think this is a good idea. I will work for it.”
Five “I think this is a great idea. I would like to lead the effort.”

Published at DZone with permission of Michael Norton, author and DZone MVB. (source)

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