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.
- 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.
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.
Determine the time line of the process.
Design the questionnaire:
State the purpose
State the intended use of the information
Explain the Delphi process
State the overall time line and the deadline for
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?"
Send out the questionnaire.
Compile the information.
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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