Description: A dotmocracy process to take a group from questions to popular common answers.

Purpose(s): Participatory democracy

Time: 30-60 mins (or more)

Resources: Dotmocracy sheets - pre-printed (download here), pens.  The handbook would be helpful for serious use of this powerful, yet simple tool (download Handbook here).


Instructions: Here are the key steps.

1) An issue is presented and questions asked
The hosting organization(s) provides a preamble of important information about the issue to be addressed.  For example: fact sheets, opinion papers and summary documents could be published; experts and key stakeholders could make presentations.  Post the key questions to be answered by the dotmocracy process where all participants can see them, for example in large letters on poster paper or with a projector.

2. Discuss potential solutions
In small groups, participants brainstorm and deliberate potential answers to the posted questions.  Collectively and independently, participants draft many ideas.

3. Post ideas
Participants clearly print each idea statement on its own Co-op Tools dotmocracy idea sheet.  Sheets are either posted on a wall or passed among participants.

4. Fill dots to record opinions. Write comments
Participants read and consider each idea and fill in one dot per sheet to record their opinion on a scale of “strong agreement”, “agreement”, “neutral”, “disagreement”, and “strong disagreement” or “confusion”. Participants sign each sheet they dot and may add brief comments.

Repeat steps 2 through 4 Participants review and discuss comments and dotting patterns and post new ideas to be dotted.

5. Formulate a common solution
The dotting process is called to a close and the results are shared.  The most popular ideas should be celebrated.  A small group of trusted stakeholder representatives and decision-makers discuss and formulate a final decision or plan that selects, combines, prioritizes and/or finds compromise between popular ideas with minimal disagreement.

Short video on the subject: