How to make a democratic choice within a team

This Christmas, we’re taking our merry party to Tyneside Cinema – a wonderful local independent screen. We’ve rented their Digital Lounge (which we thought sounded suitably techy/geeky) where they’ll serve us some Christmasy cocktails and screen a film of our choice.

Now, to understand why that caused some concern, you need to know that our team of 17 consists of 17 film lovers and 17 strong-willed individuals.

But as we are a training organisation that helps others with things like institutional change and other fairly substantial challenges, we were confident we would find a way to solve the situation.

After a careful consideration, this is what we did.

Forming the shortlist and voting arrangements

Christmas film voting cards and ballot box.We gave each team member a chance to nominate two films from a list of about 1000. This was optional, you still got to vote if you chose to opt out in the nominating stage.

The nominated films probably tell you everything you need to know about our team if you’re into DIY psychology. The range varied from Airplane to Life of Pi to Son of Rambow to Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus.

In this stage, we had only a little mutiny with one person insisting of submitting three choices. Due to his high position in the team (and the fact someone else had nominated one of his choices) we let this one go unpunished.

First round, each team member voted for their top three choices which translated into points. Top scoring two films made it to the second round where a simple majority would secure a victory. The first round took place with real ballot cards and a voting station, the second round using Outlook’s voting system.

Post-election refection

While this may sound straightforward, there was careful consideration being put into each decision throughout the process. What was the best number of choices in the voting stage? How many shortlist submissions to give people? What was the right amount of points per each choice?

Having never done anything like this before, we could only hope we got the balance right.

As a team working closely with tech and web tools, we were a bit ashamed not to make more of those in the process. We toyed with the idea of creating a web page for the shortlist with plot blurbs, embedded trailers and IMdb links but, as we do still have a few other things to do within a working day, decided against it.

If you know of any useful tools/applications for this kind of stuff, we’d love to hear your suggestions.

Oh, what film are we watching?

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa. Clear top choice in the first round, tight winner in the second round.