Delphi method refers to a structured technique of communicating that was originally developed as an interactive and systematic forecasting method that depends on experts’ panel. This forecasting communication method is based on questionnaires’ results. The questionnaires are sent to the experts in a panel on several rounds and anonymous responses are shared and aggregated in the group for each round.
A facilitator offers anonymous summary of the forecasts of the experts after every round from a previous round and the reasons provided for the judgment. Thus, the experts in the panel are advised to revise answers from the previous round in light of replies that other members of the panel provide.
Delphi method operates on the basis of the belief that the answers provided by the experts during the process will decrease enabling the group or panel to converge towards a correct answer. Eventually, the process stops after reaching a pre-defined criterion for stopping.
The criterion for stopping the process can be consensus achievement, the number the rounds of answering questionnaires and results stability among others. The median or mean score of final rounds is used in determining the results. The principle of Delphi method is that decisions or forecasts from structured groups of individuals are usually more accurate than decisions or forecasts of unstructured groups.
A common observation is the opinion that when three experts come together, they can generate four varying opinions. This is especially the case in places where the conclusion of forecasting and resource allocation depends on subjective assessment. In such cases, arguments are likely to become passionate with disagreements becoming intensely bitter and personal.
Additionally, in face-to-face discussions there are high chances of group-thinking occurring. This can cause poor decision-making. As such, a structured approach like Delphi method is required to realize a well thought-through consensus between the experts in a panel.
During the process of the Delphi method, a facilitator is involved and he manages arguments and discussions. There is no instance where the experts who are participating in the discussion meet. In some cases, a participant does not even know who the other participants are. The facilitator is in charge of controlling the process and managing flow as well as consolidation of the information.
Remoteness and anonymity of the process of Delphi method helps in preventing personality conflict and groupthink. It also gives participants time when they can think about the issues properly to critique the arguments rigorously as well as contribute fully. The facilitator may edit responses offering inflammatory interventions.
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