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fist to five (fist of five)

What is fist to five (fist of five)?

Fist to five, or fist of five, is a consensus-building technique used by Agile software development teams to poll team members and come to an agreement. Fist to five can be used in any consensus-building situation, but Agile software development teams are those that mostly use it. This is because consensus is important for projects to move forward in a timely manner.

Whenever teams use fist to five, they can provide their input on different project issues by simply raising their hand and showing a closed fist or a specific number of fingers. For example, the team facilitator restates an action the group may take and asks the team to show their level of support.

Each team member will then respond by holding up a closed fist or a number of fingers corresponding to the support level. If a team member holds up fewer than three fingers, they are given the opportunity to state their objections, and the team can then respond. The facilitator will continue the fist to five process until the team achieves consensus (everyone holds up three or more fingers) or agrees to move on to the next issue.

visualization of the Agile software development cycle
The fist to five technique is most often used by Agile software development teams for consensus-building purposes.

What is fist of five voting?

It is a type of visual gesture tool that enables rapid communication and collaboration on different project elements, for example, voting. Fist to five is similar to thumbs up, thumbs down or thumbs sideways.

The support scale that goes from zero to five represents the following:

  • Closed fist. Total opposition. A closed fist is a way to block consensus.
  • One finger. I have major concerns.
  • Two fingers. I would like to discuss some minor issues.
  • Three fingers. I'm not in total agreement, but I feel comfortable enough to let this proposal pass without further discussion.
  • Four fingers. I think it's a good idea and will work for it.
  • Five fingers. It's a great idea, and we would like to take the lead when we implement it.

What is the fist to five strategy?

The fist to five strategy is a teaching approach to better understand the extent of the students' understanding of a procedure or concept. They can hold up a closed fist (to indicate that they do not understand) or raise five fingers (because they know it completely).

Can fist to five be an exit ticket?

An exit ticket can complement the fist to five consensus in an academic environment.

For example, the instructor can provide a fist to five exit card to students to self-assess their understanding of a topic or learning target. It can be used to elaborate further, ask questions, or comment on a student's level of understanding in terms of learning goals.

See also: pigs and chickens, daily stand-up meeting, Agile Manifesto, planning poker, timebox, story, Scrum, Scrum sprint, Scrum master

This was last updated in September 2022

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