Last week, the dinner conversation (“conversation” being a loose term here) with our kids, ages five, six, nine and twelve, turned to summer vacation. We became interested in the new adventures we could find at the family cottage, where we’ve spent our vacations most of the last 15 summers.
The kids had so many ideas that, being a lover of all things brainstorm, I decided we should attempt a simple Agile brainstorm technique, including dot voting. Since dot voting is an effective method for evaluating ideas and prioritizing action, it seemed like a good option for our family.
We grabbed several pads of sticky notes and a handful of markers and went to work, taking about eight minutes for everyone to list his or her ideas, one per sticky note.
It was a flurry of inspiration. Pens and sticky notes were flying! When everyone had written down several activities, each person from small to big took a turn presenting their ideas on the dining room wall with a short explanation if needed. We started seeing patterns and clustered related activities in proximity to each other. Next we came up with category names for these grouped ideas like Adventure, Crafts, Games, Build/Make — even a Fire category emerged (think S’mores).
At that point, the real fun began: voting! Each armed with a different Sharpie color, everyone made a dot on four different things he or she really wanted to do. We tallied the votes and were pleasantly surprised to learn that our desires overlapped more than we’d guessed they would.
Not only were we pleased to see that the kids want to spend more time in “nacher” (maybe we should pack the spelling books), we were also happy to see the things that have become cherished traditions — like swimming across the lake. The top of the list? Pure and simple: adventure.
Dot voting was interactive, challenging, and energizing for our family — parents and kids alike. We’re sure to use this method in the future for moving forward on decisions while also building family unity.