Nominal Group Technique (NGT)

What Is Nominal Group Technique?

Nominal group technique (NGT) is a group performance method wherein a face-to-face group session is prefaced by a nominal-group phase during which individuals work alone to generate ideas.

NGT works as a form of brainstorming Opens in new window by which members of the group begin by writing down their ideas, then selecting which idea they feel is best. Once team members are ready, everyone presents their favorite idea, and the suggestions are then discussed and prioritized by the entire group using a point system.

One advantage of the nominal group technique (NGT) is that it minimizes blocking and loafing by reducing interdependence among members; it achieves this by starting with a nominal group phase before turning to a group session (Delbecq & Van d Ven, 1971).

Steps of Nominal Group Technique (NGT)

Step 1

The group discussion leader introduces the problem or issue in a short statement that is written on a blackboard or flip chart. Once members understand the statement, they silently write ideas concerning the issue, usually working for 10 to 15 minutes.

Step 2

The members share their ideas with one another in a round-robin; each person states an idea, which is given an identification letter and written beneath the issue statement, and the next individual then adds his or her contribution.

Step 3

The group discusses each item, focusing primarily on clarification.

Step 4

The members rank the five solutions they most prefer, writing their choices on an index card. The leader then collects the cards, averages the rankings to yield a group decision, and informs the group of the outcome. The group may wish to add two steps to further improve the procedure: a short discussion of the vote (optional Step 5) and a re-voting (optional Step 6).

The methods are particularly useful when groups discuss issues that tend to elicit highly emotional arguments. NGT groups produce more ideas and also report feeling more satisfied with the process than unstructured groups. The ranking and voting procedures also provide for an explicit mathematical solution that fairly weights all members’ inputs and provides a balance between task concerns and interpersonal forces (Delbeeq & Van de Ven, 1971; Gustafson et al., 1973).