From the Archives...


[The Manual, page 208, 1983]
An extract from the Manual that was originally published by Taylor Management Centers in Boulder, Colorado.

Purpose: To collect information about an issue or probable event to use as a basis for planning and decision making. To enable an organization to explore differences, commonalties, and desired direction without using meeting time.

Description: A questionnaire is sent out to numbers of people asking their informed opinions on a subject. Replies are tabulated and the questionnaire is sent out again; this time all of the opinions are attached to the questionnaire. People read each other's ideas and answer the question again. This process might continue for three or four cycles; gradually a consensus is formed. As information is exchanged, people incorporate each others' perspective and information into their thinking and arrive at a fairly accurate understanding of the critical issues to consider in their decision making process.


  1. Clarify what information you need and why

    Make it an objective tool, i.e., responses are for gathering information about future directions and not as an evaluative statement for the past or present.

    It is possible to manage many Delphi questions at once. Decide the purpose for the overall Delphi process and then send different questions to different people.

  2. Determine who your respondees will be. Send the Delphi to multi-levels within the organization. The diversity of the responses enables you to get comprehensive information.

  3. Determine the time line of the process.

  4. Design the questionnaire:

    1. State the purpose

    2. State the intended use of the information

    3. Explain the Delphi process

    4. State the overall time line and the deadline for each response

    5. Ask precise questions, e.g., "What year do you expect solar cells to reach the home market?" "If this corporation were to add one thing to its training program, what do you think it should be?"

  5. Send out the questionnaire.

  6. Compile the information.

  7. Send the same question out to the same people a second and third time. Include the responses with the question so that respondees can read the other opinions and adjust their own opinions.


The Delphi Method: Techniques and Application, H.A. Linstone and M. Turoff, Addison-Wesley, 1975

(a quote from the book follows)

Delphi has come a long way in its brief history, and it has a long way to go. Since its invention about twenty years ago for the purpose of estimating the probable effects of a massive atomic bombing attack on the United States, and its subsequent application in the mid-sixties to technological forecasting, its use has proliferated in the United States and abroad. While its principal area of application has remained that of technical forecasting, it has been used in many other contexts in which judgmental information is indispensable. These include normative forecasts; the ascertainment of values and preferences; estimates concerning the quality of life; simulated and real decisionmaking; and what may be called "inventive planning" by which is meant the identification (including invention) of potential measures that might be taken to deal with a given problem situation and the assessment of such proposed measures with regard to their feasibility, desirability, and effectiveness...

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