Monday, September 14, 2015

Delphi Method (Rating: 4 out of 5 stars)

Note: This post represents the synthesis of the thoughts, procedures and experiences of others as represented in the  articles read in advance (see previous posts) and the discussion among the students and instructor during the Advanced Analytic Techniques class at Mercyhurst University in September 2015 regarding Delphi as an Analytic Technique specifically. This technique was evaluated based on its overall validity, simplicity, flexibility and its ability to effectively use unstructured data.

Delphi is an analytic methodology that utilizes a panel of subject matter experts to come to a consensus on an issue.  Successive rounds of surveys are given to the experts and are completed anonymously.  Feedback, consisting of other answers and justifications for the answer, is provided to the experts between each round. The feedback is taken into account in next round of responses.  At the end of the rounds, final answers are delivered to the panelists and the customer for whom the method was conducted.

The Delphi method attempts to achieve several objectives: develop a range of possible alternatives, explore underlying assumptions, seek out information that may generate a consensus, and educate the participants on different ideas and aspects of a specific topic.
  • Method provides anonymity to participants
  • Method uses independence
  • It is very useful to come up with a consensus
  • Anonymity and independence help overcome groupthink
  • Method is versatile
  • Controlled feedback gives participants option to hear others’ opinions and then go back and modify their answers
  • Statistical analytic ensure equal representation among participants
  • Method can take extensive periods of time
  • Panels must be composed of experts
  • It can be manipulated by the researcher due to his or her extreme control over the process
  • Technique requires feedback, but some participants may not respond
  • Method hinges on ability/training of facilitator/researcher

  1. Develop a questionnaire/survey/scorecard to evaluate an estimate or recommendation
  2. Gather a group of experts related to the subject at hand
  3. Provide them the questionnaire/score card and ask them to evaluate the options of the given scenario
  4. Gather the data and provide the scores of everyone & the average for each option. Keep everything anonymous for the participants in the study.
  5. Conduct at least 2 rounds of scoring and then evaluate the results.
  6. Finally, evaluate the best option or at least eliminate the worst option(s).

Personal Application of Technique:
Delphi exercise involved a UN type simulation decision on which policy was more effective in determining what policy to adapt in regards to Nuclear policy. In order to do this, the group first created a “role” so that the person could act as an expert. The roles that were chosen included a person from the Institute for Science and International Security, Pakistani Prime Minister, Chinese Foreign Minister, Indian Prime Minister, Japanese Foreign Minister, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, President of Iran.

Some of the lessons learned include: visual representation of results, incorporating technology (i.e. Google Forms) to take advantage of time, and also having different questions for each round. It would be more beneficial to present the results on a histogram.

For Further Information:

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