Organizational Development Consultant

Nineteen Techniques to Gather Information: #5 Delphi Technique

June 7, 2014

            “I need to gather information from a range of people in different locations. The information I require is relatively straight forward, but getting these people together is impossible. Help!”

#5: Delphi Technique

What is Delphi Technique?

The Delphi Technique is used to gather information and opinions from the members of a group without any face-to-face discussion. This occurs most often when it is logistically difficult for the group participants to get together. The process is carried out through a series of questionnaires, ending with a written summary given to each participant. Because the group using this technique will never meet, the entire process is executed through e-mail or some other on-line media.

The Delphi Technique takes the place of a meeting, allowing participants the benefits of others’ insights without physically interacting with them. However, sometimes the information gathered from this technique is later used in a meeting composed of a smaller or different group of people.

There are obvious limitations. The Delphi Technique requires much more time for the facilitator to prepare and, because there is no direct contact, it is difficult for participants to create a sense of team. Additionally, the success of the process depends significantly upon the analytical and reporting skills of the facilitator.

When Do I Use Delphi Technique?

  • When it is very difficult for participants to get together
  • When the focus is on one primary question or concern
  • When the contents of the discussion can be easily categorized and summarized for review

How Do I Use Delphi Technique?

  1. Determine if the Delphi Technique is appropriate for your purposes. If so, take the time to write a clear letter of introduction outlining the purpose and process you will use.
  2. Ask group members one or more questions as an initial inquiry that starts the process. Question/s should be open-ended questions such as “What are the problems in meeting holiday season customer demand?” Be sure to explain the purpose of the question and how the information will be used. Consider providing a questionnaire form that members complete on-line and return by a specified date.
  3. Tabulate the responses and include them on a second questionnaire that asks participants to vote for or rate the importance of various responses.  In some cases, ask participants to write arguments or position papers justifying their reactions and reasoning.
  4. Tabulate the ratings and summarize the arguments. Send the information back to group members and request that they evaluate their selected choices. Continue this process until no new information is forthcoming and a consensus is reached.
  5. Use the information as planned.

In Summary:

The Delphi Technique is used to gather information and opinions from the members of a group without any face-to-face discussion among group members.

  1. If the Delphi Technique is appropriate for your purposes, prepare the necessary introductory correspondence.
  2. Ask group members one or more open ended questions as an initial inquiry that starts the process.
  3. Tabulate the responses and include them on a second questionnaire that asks participants to vote for or rate the importance of various responses.
  4. Tabulate the ratings and summarize the arguments. Send the information back to group members and request that they evaluate their selected choices. Continue this process as needed.
  5. Use the information as planned.

———————-

NOTE:  If you would like to receive e-mail notification when I post additional techniques, please sign up through this link.   http://eepurl.com/KILan  You may unsubscribe at any time.

Leave a Reply