Delphi is a technique to structure group communication processes to deal with complex issues. It is particularly used by experts in a series of iterative learning rounds.
Delphi first establishes the group's initial view, presents instant feedback on differing opinions, and goal seeks an agreed position in the final round. Contributors to the group analysis do not have to meet in person and can see the results as they, and their colleagues, add their views in real time. At the beginning, the organizer(s) formulate questions about the future and present these to contributors. Contributors respond by adding their rankings and comments. The organizers then modify the anonymous comments received to formulate better questions. The process is run again, in a series of rounds, until a consensus answer is arrived at or people agree to disagree.
Uses of the Delphi method
- Consensus building.
- Avoiding group think.
- Generating ideas.
- Forecasting future issues.
- Fast consensus but its not the main objective
- Virtual participation.
- Handles single or multiple questions.
- Paradigm shifts can be problematic.
- Participant expertise may reduce result. Non-experts may produce better results.
- Cross-impact not considered.
- Team leaders can bias the result.
- Concensus may not produce multiple possible futures.
- Disagreements may not be properly resolved.
- Shallow analysis means the subject is not explored in full but at a gut level.
Steps to complete a Delphi Analysis
- Team creation
- Selection of participants
- Establishment of the question(s)
- Question sense-check testing
- Determine if the required outcome should be answered from a future 'challenge' (ranks the highest challenges first) or 'impact' (ranks the highest impacts first) perspective.
- First round voting/commenting
- First round analysis (you can use the Net score to see the aggregate mean of every ones views and the SD - standard deviation to determine where there is most disagreement - highest score or most agreement). Columns are sortable by clicking the appropriate header to give further views of how participants ranked the challenges or impacts.
- Revision of question(s)
- Second round/voting/commenting
- Second round analysis (more rounds if required)
- Stable consensus achieved
- Determine the fixed elements (almost certain hard trends)that will inform your strategic response: slow-changing phenomena e.g. demographic shifts, constrained situations e.g. resource limits, in the pipeline e.g. aging of baby boomers, inevitable collisions e.g. climate change arguments.
- Capture critical variables i.e.uncertainties, soft trends and potential surprises. Both these and the fixed elements will be key to creating scenarios and examining potential future paradigm shifts.
- Capture unique insight into new ways of seeing that can be utilized by the organization.
- The product method ranks, in broad terms, how you plan to compete with a product to your marketplace.
- Develop next steps and determine if any further research required
'Delphi'can be shared with others or kept private using the 'Visible to' fields andthrough the 'tag', 'report', 'share'', 'link and 'comment' functionality. Use 'tag' and/or 'report' to aggregate your analyzes, 'share' with others via email, Facebook and Twitter etc. or add a 'comment' to ask others where they agree/disagree and encourage them to make their own analysis from their unique vantage point.
Even with all the advice and tools we have provided here starting a foresight project from scratch can be a daunting prospect to a beginner. Let us know if you need help with this method or want a group facilitation exercise or full project or program carrying out by us. We promise to leave behind more internal knowledgeable people who can expand your initiative for better organizational performance.
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