The Five-to-Fold Decision-Making Model

“All in favor say I.”

“All opposed say nay.”

But, what if you’re “sort of” in favor?

Something is very wrong if everyone around the table is in %100 agreement on complex issues.


Marc, a commenter on yesterday’s Leadership Freak blog post, explained a voting method that refines the typical “yea or nay” approach. He called it the “Five-to-Fold” method.

(On 11/5/2017 I was informed the Chris Weaver invented the Five-to-Fold decision making method.)

Five-to-Fold groundwork:

  1. Explain issues.
  2. Offer your solution.
  3. Field questions.
  4. Vote using the “Five-to-Fold” method. (Hold up zero to five fingers.)

Five-to-Fold vote:

  1. Five fingers. You’re all-in and prepared to own the project. You’ll take the lead if asked.
  2. Four fingers. You give strong support and active participation, but you’re not willing to lead the initiative.
  3. Three fingers. You’re on board.
  4. Two fingers. You have important reservations but will support the initiative.
  5. One finder. You have serious reservations but will not block or subvert the effort. You also commit to open communication regarding your reservations.
  6. Folding – no fingers. You want to block the proposal because you believe it’s damaging.

Note: Folding is part of the process, not a failure.


Every legitimate vote is an opportunity for dissent.

Forced consensus drives dissent underground.

Honest consensus-finding welcomes – even invites – dissent.

Healthy dissent:

  1. Remains flexible.
  2. Seeks to be useful.
  3. Stays calm.
  4. Invites conversation.
  5. Addresses problems.
  6. Develops alternatives.
  7. Expands possibilities.

Skillful teams use dissent as opportunity to:

  1. Take another’s perspective.
  2. Clarify mission and vision.
  3. Explore options.
  4. Find acceptable levels of unity without browbeating dissenters.

Real consensus is never achieved by sacrificing your values or strongly held beliefs.

Determine how you’ll respond to low or no support for an idea before taking votes. How will you respond to the one or two finger votes? What about the Fold votes?

I’ve never used the Five-to-Fold method. What pros and cons do you see? Suggestions?