Nominal group technique

There are numerous situations where a P3 manager needs to collate ideas from a group of individuals and arrive at a decision. It may be a group of stakeholders discussing benefits, a project team identifying major risks or a technical team debating alternative technical solutions.

But any group comprises many different characters; some are vocal and some are quiet; some are extrovert and some are not; some are new to the group and some are old hands. The P3 manager needs to be sure that all have had a chance to contribute and all the expertise within the group is utilised.

The nominal group technique is one way of achieving this. The basic approach has five steps:

  • Introductionprocess flow for nominal group technique

  • In the first step the facilitator explains the purpose of the session and describes the way it will work. If the P3 manager wants to provide input it is best to use an external and independent facilitator.

  • Silent generation

  • Each participant silently lists all their ideas relating to the matter in hand. Team members may list their top risks and possible responses, stakeholders may make observations about the relative value of benefits or technical experts may comment on different solutions to a problem.

  • Sharing

  • Each participant shares their ideas in turn and the facilitator records them. There is no discussion at this stage and additional ideas should be quietly noted by the participants.

  • Discussion

  • The facilitator guides a discussion that should be as neutral as possible – i.e. avoiding undue negativity and judgement. Each participant should be given equal opportunity to present, question and clarify the list of ideas.

  • Ranking

  • The final step enables the participants to rank or score the ideas as appropriate e.g. rank the identified risks or score the identified solutions or prioritise the benefits. The facilitator consolidates the rankings and presents the result to the group.

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    The main advantage of the technique is that it gives all participants an equal opportunity to contribute. The main disadvantage is that it may come across as restrictive and cumbersome – but much of that will be down to the skill of the facilitator.

 

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Nominal group technique

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