The Delphi Technique

Posted on July 30, 2009 by

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Although listed as a Group Creativity Technique for the fourth edition PMBOK®’s Collect Requirements process, this technique is versatile and used beyond the boundaries of project management.

The Delphi Technique consists of rounds of gathering opinions from a select group of experts. For example, Kent wants to buy a car, but he wants to make sure it’s a “really cool” car. So he asks some of his friends who work in the automobile industry to be part of his panel. Each friend is unaware of who the other panel members are. Kent receives all the surveys back and reads the responses, such as the Dodge Challenger, Ford Mustang, Maserati 3200 GT, Rolls Royce Phantom and Saleen S7. Kent summarized his results, and then sent this summary back to all his panel members. A number of them changed their mind, writing comments such as “I forgot about the Saleen S7 that someone mentioned! Yes, that is the coolest car.” Once again, he summarized the results and sent them to his panel to see if the group came to even more agreement about which is the coolest car. In this way, he was able to get valuable information from the experts, and there was no concern about group dynamics or individual personalities unduly affecting the results.