Delphi Method

What is Delphi Method?

The Delphi Method can be termed as a framework for forecasting process wherein the main objective of the process is to arrive at a group consensus and involves filling up questionnaires to be filled by chosen experts. The expert group opines their views to an initiator or facilitator who then summarizes the gathered information into an understandable report.

Explanation

  • This procedure likes to predict the possibility and likelihood of an event to happen.
  • This is regarded as the procedure wherein an initiator or facilitator collects opinions on a topic from an anonymous group of experts.
  • Such a process may involve multiple iterations.
  • Each iteration is performed after receiving coherent feedback on the previous step.
  • The iterations have to be performed until a unanimous and common consensus is achieved from the group of chosen experts.
  • The group provides their viewpoints, assumptions, and estimates to the facilitator at each step of the group discussion.
  • After the end of the rounds, the experts are shared with the views and estimates of other experts.
Delphi Method

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Characteristics of Delphi Method

  • The method was ideated by Olaf Helmer and Norman Dalkey.
  • The method was first introduced in the year 1950.
  • The founding members were part of Rand Corporation.
  • The name Delphi is derived from the Greek name oracle of Delphi.
  • The process helps in getting towards a mutual agreement towards a common solution or answer.
  • This is regarded as an exploratory and detailed procedure.
  • It can happen across geographies and involves the collection of streamlined and structured information.
  • The process remains anonymous and the experts can share feedback without any discretions.
  • The method was first tested in a cold war wherein it was used to forecast the impact of technology on warfare.

How does this Delphi Method Forecast Work?

  • The first step involves the selection and choosing of a facilitator. This involves the selection of a neutral person who remains unbiased throughout the process.
  • Once a facilitator is decided, the second step involves the selection of the expert panel. The panel may include customer or domain experts or subject matter experts working in the industry.
  • The subject matter expert is regarded as an individual who has the required acumen and knowledge to solve problems.
  • The third step involves a decision on the selection of a problem statement. The experts should be then informed on the selected topic so that they have sufficient time to gather needful points that they can share with the larger group and facilitator.
  • The facilitator then shares the first set of questions through a broad and comprehensive questionnaire.
  • The facilitator then collects the completed questionnaire from a larger group and tries to assimilate common points and remove irrelevant information.
  • The facilitator then shares the second set of questions basis the responses received for the first lot with the intent of deep-diving into the problem.
  • The facilitator keeps repeating the above steps until a common consensus arrives and the final results are shared with the target group.
  • The findings and results are then analyzed further to determine the solutions, opportunities for the given problem statement.

Examples of Delphi Method

  • The Delphi technique or method has big applications in solving high impact business projects and matters of highly sensitive political issues. For high impact projects to be successful, the project manager has to determine the probability of specific events that can occur through the course of the project and analyze how such events affect the projects or not. In such a scenario, the Delphi method plays an instrumental role in identifying the opportunities and risks related to the project.
  • Similarly, in the formulation of public policy, this method plays a key role in arriving towards broad solutions.

When is it Used?

  • The Delphi method is used for research and forecasting for problems whose solutions are not yet determined. This is used when for a given problem statement, there is no true answer and requires opinionated decision making.  The Delphi method doesn’t rely on one subject matter expert rather it takes into account opinions coming from several subject matter experts.
  • The Delphi method or technique becomes a goto method or a popular choice for forecasting when the anonymity of subject matter experts is required on difficult subjects or topics such as a matter of political significance. This method is useful when there is a need to collect a large sample size and it becomes difficult for face to face interactions for drawing subjective inferences out of the chosen topic.

Advantages

  • This method provides opportunities for a bigger to come up and participate.
  • It helps in the early detection of problems and solutions which helps in determining the alternative course of action.
  • After each step and feedback, the experts are provided with the opportunities to review their insights and opinions which they can later change in the succeeding step.
  • The participation by the experts tends to stay anonymous.

Disadvantages

  • It is a very time-consuming process as the facilitator has to facilitate repetitive rounds of interviews to arrive at the common consensus.
  • The process can become complex as well with the increase in instances of multiple and repetitive rounds.
  • The problem statement has to be clearly defined and has to be transparent.
  • The data collected and collated may have some biased estimates coming out of experts themselves and the facilitator may or may not be able to catch such biases.
  • There are high chances that the dynamics of the group may get manipulated to force an incorrect solution.

Conclusion

  • The process of the Delphi method involves asking multiple rounds of questions to the target group of experts. They do so until they arrive at the common consensus and correct answer. The process is exploratory with broad application in project management and public domain.
  • Such a method avoids difficult face to face interactions and helps in solving the common problem related to the dynamics of the group. The process collects regular feedback at each step. The method, in short, helps in understanding the likelihood or probability of an event to happen or take place.

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