“Five to Fold is a methodology for effective, holistic group decision making, or decision creation.
Five to Fold fosters open and honest communication, and continuous contact between individual and organizational purpose/essence.
Five to Fold helps organizations to evolve rapidly as living entities.”

Chris Weaver (originator)

5toFold is a consensus decision making process. It is an efficient and powerful way to make both day-to-day and large, complex decisions. 5toFold builds trust, individual responsibility, and accesses the wisdom of the whole group. This short description invites you to use 5toFold in your own group.

Within a 5toFold process, there are different roles:

Sponsor – the sponsor puts the proposal on the table, presents the proposal, shares its purpose and background, and responds to clarifying questions.

Participants – The participants listen; ask clarifying questions; share their perspective in a talking circle; and make the decision (together with the sponsor).

Facilitator – the facilitator does not participate in discussion or the “finger-vote” but guides the group through the process.

How to – a step by step instruction[1]

Our experience is that 5toFold works best with participants in a circle, without a table.

  1. Welcome and Context
    The facilitator welcomes the participants, shares the purpose of the meeting (”to decide on”), the agenda, and the context for the proposal.
  2. Presenting the Proposal
    The sponsor presents the proposal in writing, often on a flip-chart/whiteboard. The presentation includes sharing its purpose, background, who was involved in creating it, and who is responsible for implementing it etc.
  3. Clarifying Questions
    The participants ask clarifying questions (i.e questions that intend to remove any unclearness) and the sponsor responds.

At this stage, participants are not allowed to share their opinions or perspectives.
This prevents unnecessary discussion with opinions that are based on a lack of full understanding.

  1. Talking Circle
    The talking circle gives each participant the opportunity to share his/her perspective on the proposal.

    Use a ”talking object” to allow each participant to speak without interruptions.
    This also supports deeper listening.

If the proposal is perceived as simple/self-evident, this step goes quick.
However, it is important to take the time, as this is each participant’s opportunity to share his/her own personal view.

  1. Transiting into Making the Decision
    Before voting , the facilitator can choose to:
    a) Proceed, as it is clear that the participants are ready to give their votes.
    b) Allow more time for discussion, as it got clear that the participants need to discuss further before giving their votes.
    c) Invite the sponsor to revise the proposal based on the feedback, write and present the revised proposal [2]
This discussion is facilitated by putting the talking object in the middle, and then whoever wants to speak picks up the stick, talks, and then puts it back. This continues until finished.
Based on the extent of the revision, the facilitator might invite to do steps 3-4 again.

 

[1] For a proposal with “minor importance”, do NOT simplify the Five to Fold process. Go through the full process. Following the process creates unity and fosters co-creation. If the proposal truly is a “minor” decision, it can be very quick.

[2] Sometimes the sponsor is ready to immediately revise the proposal, for example during a short break, but can also choose to revise and propose at a later stage. Also note that it is at the sponsor´s discretion to incorporate feedback from steps 3-4.

 

6. The Finger Vote
The facilitator reads out the propsal and then invites the participants to give their votes. The votes are given at the same time (“one, two, three – go”).

The facilitator explains the meaning of the different votes before the actual vote.
A moment of silent reflection is also customary.

                  

Meaning of the Finger Votes:

5 I strongly support the proposal and intend to have a leadership role in its implementation.

4 I strongly support it but do not intend to have a leadership role in its implementation.

3 Solid support without significant concerns.

2 I support the proposal but have some concerns which I am willing to share.

1 I have major concerns about the proposal, but I do not block the proposal. I commit not to subvert the proposal and to share my concerns openly with the group.

Fold I choose to block the proposal because I believe strongly that, if implemented, the proposal will conflict with the purpose of the group at this time. I commit to sharing my concerns openly with the group. I will also contribute to finding a different solution to the question at hand.

The minute taker records the range of votes in the finger-vote.

7. The Decision
Based on the results of the vote, the facilitator proceeds according to one of the following alternatives:
a) If no one has folded, the facilitator announces that the proposal has become a decision, then checks in with any ones or twos whose concerns are recorded in the minutes.
b) If there has been a fold, the facilitator announces that the proposal is not a decision, and the person/s who folded are invited to share their concerns which are recorded.
Ones and twos are invited to share their concerns as well.

The facilitator often invites to a break, allowing all participants to reflect and gather their thoughts before the meeting continues.
Celebrate? Of course! Everything from applause to jungle roars is encouraged and suitable…

Next Steps
The facilitator proceeds by:
a) After the decision, first celebrate the decision (also when it’s a Fold!) and then continue and articulate the next step(s) necessary to implement the decision. This is also recorded.
b) If the proposal was folded, the proposal is handed back to the sponsor. The sponsor and the participants may reflect briefly on how to continue—i.e. whether and when the topic of the proposal may be revisited for negotiation.