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What is the Delphi Method? And How to Use the Delphi Method | Video

What is the Delphi Method? And How to Use the Delphi Method | Video

The Delphi method is a structured way to pool the opinions of many experts to reach a group solution. It was developed in 1969 by the Rand Corporation to facilitate technological forecasting. It has the benefit of overcoming the bias that results from some voices being more dominant than others – by virtue either of personality or eminence.

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What the Delphi Method is Good for

The primary uses of the Delphi method are in forecasting and decision making. The Delphi method tends to produce robust predictions based on experience, by eliminating the wilder contributions. 

However, sometimes the past is a poor guide to the future and there is a possibility of massive and discontinuous change. In these cases, the Delphi method is not suitable. 

This makes the Delphi Method inappropriate for leading-edge projects. 

How to Use the Delphi Method

Here is a model for using the Delphi method for identifying and evaluating risks.

  1. Select your panel of “experts” who will work on the problem. 
  2. You will also need:
    1. a facilitator (that may be you)
    2. an expert to help you craft your questions (that may also be you)
    3. and maybe some administrative support (yup, you guessed it!)
  3. Research and develop your initial set of questions, and send them to all participants. 
    These need to be clear and free of ambiguity and vagueness, for the best results. 
    It is also important that everyone gets exactly the same briefing and questions. If not, you risk introducing bias.
    So, ensure that as well as asking them for their ideas, you also elicit the reasoning behind their answers.
  4. Analyze and tabulate the results, including the reasons, anonymously. Based on these results, prepare a second set of questions. That includes the anonymized results of the first round (including the reasoning).
  5. Return the analysis and reasons, along with the new questions, to all participants.
  6. Continue looping back to step 3 until little or no change occurs. Then prepare your report and assess as required.

Benefits of the Delphi Method

  • Eliminates need for group meetings
  • Alleviates some of the bias inherent in group meetings
  • Participants can change their minds anonymously

Weaknesses of the Delphi Method:

  • Can take a lot of time to reach consensus
  • Participants may drop out
  • Not as scientific as it appears

Take care with:

  • The form of the questions – which could introduce bias
  • The choice and balance of your “experts” –independence and diversity are the keys to success
  • Keeping your experts informed and engaged

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I asked Project Managers in a couple of forums what material things you need to have, to do your job as a Project Manager. They responded magnificently. I compiled their answers into a Kit list. I added my own. 

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About the Author Mike Clayton

Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.

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