August 31

How to Use the Delphi Technique

PMI-RMP Exam Prep

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In today's article, I'll test your understanding of the Delphi Technique. We'll also explore the technique, when you might wish to use it, and how to facilitate this process.

Which of the following statements describes the Delphi Technique most correctly? The Delphi Technique is used:

A. In face to face meetings when experts need to share their opinions.

B. To minimize groupthink and to reach consensus through anonymous expert input.

C. When groups need to make decisions quickly, as in a vote.

D. To create virtual mind maps.

Answer Key

Answer:  B

A common problem in decision making is groupthink. A powerful, dominating individual drives the project decisions. One way to counter groupthink is to reach consensus by asking for input anonymously using the Delphi Technique. Additionally, this technique may also be used to brainstorm and capture ideas.

What is the Delphi Technique?

The Delphi Technique is used to gather information and reach consensus through anonymous input using surveys and questionnaires. There are typically rounds of questions. The results are shared after each round. The process continues until a decision is made.

When to Use the Delphi Technique

Need to brainstorm ideas? Perhaps you want to identify risks related to your project schedule. Or you want to gather weaknesses of a business process. You can use the Delphi Technique in countless ways.

How to Facilitate the Delphi Technique

So, how do you actually facilitate this process? There are many ways to use this technique, but here's an example of identifying and analyzing risks:

  1. Identify a facilitator.
  2. Identify the experts.
  3. The facilitator creates and distributes an online survey asking the experts to identify risks.
  4. Facilitator distributes a list of 7 identified risks and asks the experts to force rank the risks from highest (1) to lowest (7).
  5. Facilitator compiles and shares the results with the experts as a list of the risks from highest (lowest total) to lowest (highest total).
  6. The experts discuss the results to determine if any adjustments are needed.

Notes: 

  • In this example, we used the Forced Ranking Technique. However, you may use any ranking/prioritization technique you desire. For example, you could simply have the experts rank each risk as low, medium, or high.
  • When you ask participants to force rank a list, individuals prioritize the list in order one after another from 1 to the highest number (7 in this example). The number 1 indicates the most significant risk.
  • In this example, the Facilitator distributed a list of 7 identified risks. This could be any number of risks. However, the Forced Ranking Technique works best with 10 or fewer items.

Forced Ranking Example

Note: The lowest total indicates the most significant risk. Therefore Requirement #5 matters most, followed by Requirement #2, and so forth.

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