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What is PrioritySpend?

Introducing PrioritySpend

You've gathered people together to lay the ground for future action that affects them. They could be a work team, a committee, or a community forum.

A set of possible options has been suggested. Some might be newly brainstormed, others may have long-standing support.

There won't be just one winning option, several can be taken up. But which ones deserve the most investment in time or money? Which ones do people care about most?

You've helped organise the people to study the options and talk about them in depth, in a civil and respectful manner. They deliberated about the merits of each option, their costs, and how individuals and the community would benefit or be impacted by their take-up. Perhaps some expert opinion has been sought.

Now it's time to make a shared decision about the value and rank of those option items.

PrioritySpend is an online tool to help make that happen.


Uses for PrioritySpend?

I hope to present testimonials for use cases like the following:

  • PrioritySpend may be used by small deliberating groups or committees to judge brainstormed ideas.
  • A design team could apply the poll to decide how many work hours should be allocated to various creative tasks.
  • A large company could poll employees about how its training budget could be applied best.
  • A local government could offer residents the opportunity to prioritise options for capital spending (this is called participatory budgeting).



What do the results look like?

PrioritySpend produces a bar graph of results. There are two main kinds of results, depending on how you configure the poll.

You could give each participant a budget in name only, like 100 tokens, to allocate across the option items that are deemed to be valuable. In this case, the results are aggregated to show the average percentage that participants allocated to each option item, sorted in descending popularity.

In some cases, there is a real budget to allocate and each option item is prepared with an estimated cost. Poll-takers cannot allocate more than the estimated cost of each option item. Results for this type of poll are sorted by how close, in percentage terms, the option items come to achieving their estimated cost. The results can also show how budget can be scaled up to the estimates and paid out to the leading items.

There are many configurations to achieve different result interpretations.


How is PrioritySpend unique?

It offers a more sophisticated preferencing scheme than mere voting or ranking. It allows participants to assign weighted values to multiple choices. PrioritySpend is about valuing ideas and possible actions (not political candidates).

Most cases of polling occur after a period of contested argumentation and advocacy, with disinformation and distortion promulgated to win at all costs. Instead, PrioritySpend should be applied after a period of respectful civil dialogue and facilitated deliberation. PrioritySpend isn't a survey of ephemeral attitudes, either, as participants are asked to make commitments that are meaningful to them and whatever community that is affected by the poll.

Notice that participants are not referred to as mere voters.


How is a poll taken?

A poll is presented as a set of option items to which real or nominal value can be applied. Large [+] and [-] buttons make it easy to ratchet the amounts up and down. The software ensures that you follow the rules that are laid out, such as not overspending the budget. Details about each option item are available in a linked pop-up panel.

With PrioritySpend, the priorities of a face-to-face meeting (by organisers entering participant ballots by proxy) can be tabulated with those of a larger online community that is tuned in to the dialogue. The poll can be printed as a paper ballot, which can be entered quickly into the computer by organisers. The results of face-to-face and online participants can be displayed separately or combined.


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