The Delphi Technique

What Is Delphi Technique?

Delphi technique is a group performance method that involves repeated assessment of members’ opinions via surveys and questionnaires as opposed to face-to-face meetings.

The Delphi technique eliminates the group level discussion altogether. This method, named for the legendary Delphic oracle Opens in new window, involves surveying members repeatedly with the results of each round of surveys informing the framing of the questions for subsequent rounds.

The Delphi coordinator begins the process by developing a short list of questions on the topic and gathering the answers of a carefully selected group of respondents.

Their answers are then pooled and communicated back to the entire group; members are asked to restate their responses to the original items, comment on others’ responses, or respond to new questions that emerged in the first round of surveying. This process is repeated until a solution is reached.

The Delphi technique method is particularly well-suited for problems that cannot be solved by a systematic review of the available data (Forsyth, 2010).

Buzz Groups, Bug Lists, and Beyond

When stumped for new ideas, members can break up into buzz groups, which are small subgroups that generate ideas that can later be discussed by the entire group. Members can jot down a bug list of small irritations pertaining to the problem under discussion, and the group can then discuss solutions for each bug.

Groups can use the step ladder technique, which requires asking each new member of the group to state his or her ideas before listening to the group’s position (Rogelberg & O’Connor, 1998).

Groups can even use elaborate systems of idea generation with such exotic-sounding names as synectics and TRIZ. In synectics, a trained leader guides the group through a discussion of members’ goals, wishes, and frustrations using analogies, metaphors, and fantasy (Bouchard, 1972).

TRIZ is used primarily in science and engineering and involves following a specific sequence of problem analysis, resource review, goal setting Opens in new window, and review of prior approaches to the problem (Moehrle, 2005).