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Contributors Christian Kohls
Last modification May 17, 2017
Source Kohls (2014)[1]; Kohls (2016)[2]
Pattern formats OPR Alexandrian
Learning domain

Vote for the best ideas, which ideas should be elaborated or followed up.


Once you have found clear alternatives to choose between (either directly after an ideation process or after clustering ideas into different options) you have to decide which ideas should be followed up. Maybe you want to decide which ideas to implement or which ideas need further development.


With large options of ideas it is hard to decide objectively which ones to follow up.


A guts feeling which idea to pick might be appropriate but you want to seriously consider each idea and make a sound decision.

Very often ideas compete on multiple dimension. Idea 1 might be easy to implement but only fits to one target group. Idea 2 is harder to implement but addresses more target groups. One needs to find a holistic but easy way to decide which idea to pick. One needs to compare their overall values and somehow quantify.

If ideas came out of a group collaboration all participants should have a saying which idea(s) to pick. It should not be the loudest to decide but a democratic process. When picking ideas views from different persons should be taken into account.

Decision making should not take too much time and should be transparent.


Therefore, vote on each ideas by cumulating a score to each. The one idea (or a set number of ideas) with the highest score will be followed up. There are different ways of voting but the simple one’s are the best.

  1. Identify the ideas to vote on.
  2. Declare how many ideas will be picked (e.g. only one or the top 5).
  3. Choose one of the voting variations described below.
  4. Count the votes.
  5. Decide on ideas based on the voting.

There are many forms of voting but for collaboration within a group, the simple methods work bests.

One vote per person. This system is similar to many election systems. If each participant has exactly one vote, they have to decide which idea they really like best. You will pick up the one idea that gets the most votes. This is a good option if you are picking several ideas. In ensures that also the 2nd and 3rd favored ideas are followed up.

One vote per idea. If you pick only one idea it is better to allow each participant to vote on multiple items. That is you can vote on each item independently whether you like it or not. Why is this sometimes better than one vote per person? The reason is this: Say everyone has only one vote and idea A gets 20%, idea B gets 15% and idea C gets 10%. So idea A is clearly the winner. But what if those people who voted for C would rather see B in action than A? They may prefer C best but prefer B over A. The only way to resolve this is to allow voting on each item independently. That is, if one likes C best and B second best one votes for both. The results could be like this: A gets 40% B gets 45% and C gets 20%. Now B is the winner. Maybe B is not the option that most people would prefer first but it’s the option most people can support. The drawback of this voting is that might be tempted to vote for each and every idea and the results get blurred. If you have only one vote then you really have to think hard on which idea is the best.

Voting points. A compromise between the two modes of voting is to give each participant “voting points” that s/he can freely split between the ideas. For example, a participant can vote on three ideas. Or a participant could express strong preference for one idea by putting all “voting points” on only one idea. To achieve this you can use stickers, poker chips or a digital voting tool.

Scoring. The fourth option of voting is a little more complex. Instead of providing points or say yes/no to each idea, each participant provides a score to each idea. The total score for each idea, then, is the average of all scores. Rating in some sport disciplines works like this. The stars rating at amazon and other shopping websites works like this. Depending on the maturity of ideas, the scoring can even have multiple components. For example, if you just had a hackaton to develop some product prototypes, then your decisions should be a bit more elaborative. To decide which project should progress you often want to justify the scoring along several dimensions such as usability, innovation, market potential, emotional connection, feasibility etc. You can cumulate multiple scores into one average total score. This is the fairest rating but it’s also a little harder to organize and explain. Again, digital tools can support.


  1. Patlet published in Kohls, C. (2014). Dream teams at the right place. In Proceedings of the 19th European Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs (EuroPLoP 2014) (p. 3). New York:ACM.
  2. Pattern published in Kohls, C. (2016). The magic 5 of innovation: judgement patterns. In Proceedings of the 21st European Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs (EuroPLoP 2016) (p. 21). New York:ACM.