With its development in 1950 by Olaf Helmer and Norman Dalkey, the Delphi method has become an incredibly important component to decision making processes. The process was originally developed for national defense purposes as the two employees of the RAND Corporation created it to have experts give their advice on strategies. It has since developed into an important model used for a variety of different purposes.
Origination of the term “Delphi”
Delphi is a word that stems from Greek mythology. In these tales, Delphi was the home of the Delphic oracle who was seen as the most important oracle in the entirety of Greek mythology. Therefore, the Delphi decision making process was developed to enable experts (the most important individuals) to help make critical decisions.
What are Delphi Decision Groups?
The majority of companies and organizations that use the Delphi decision making process construct Delphi decision groups. These groups include all of the experts in one specific field who may be requested to provide their input towards a particular problem or general situation. Essentially, these groups are the individuals that are specifically sought out due to their level of expertise.
Getting the Advice
In comparison to other methods of gathering advice such as holding a meeting or a conference, Delphi decision making groups receive surveys or questionnaires that they are then requested to fill out. A facilitator will distribute the materials to the group and will oversee their responses. The individuals in a Delphi group don’t see each other face-to-face at any point in time and most of their communication is via writing.
Interpreting the Advice
Once all of the information has been collected from each member of the Delphi group, the facilitator then begins to interpret the advice. Each answer is analyzed to determine whether there are conflicting opinions about a specific question or topic. With the use of this process, the facilitator is able to find cohesion within the answers and build a group consensus on what the decision and/or solution is.
The Delphi Decision Making Process in Detail
Now that you are aware of how a Delphi decision group is created and what their role is in the decision making process, below are the 7 steps associated with the Delphi decision making process. This process is not only used for national affairs, but it can also be used in a smaller setting such as any workplace.
Step 1: Select knowledgeable experts for the panel.
Step 2: Keep the Delphi group participants separate and provide them with questionnaires with open-ended questions so that you can acquire specific answers to a question or problem. Keeping the participants apart helps to control group dynamic bias or groupthink.
Step 3: The facilitator then collects the questionnaires and analyzes the responses by sifting through relevant and irrelevant content.
Step 4: The processed information is then given back to the Delphi group members.
Step 5: The experts are then asked to give new opinions and/or decisions based on their new information.
Step 6: Steps 1 through 5 are then repeated until the group is able to provide answers that show uniformity and a consensus.
The Benefits of the Delphi Process
Decision making is imperative for everyday processes to be completed. With that being said, using the Delphi process to receive expert advice on a particular situation can be quite useful. One of the largest benefits associated with the Delphi decision making process is that it helps to eliminate bias by any interpersonal issues that an individual may have. With the ability to filter irrelevant information and provide the members with new information until a consensus is formed, it allows participants to make decisions based on their expertise rather than personal experience.
This method of decision making is also incredibly efficient due to the fact that it won’t involve any face-to-face brainstorming. With the ability to prevent face-to-face conversations, debates and arguments can be avoided, therefore an answer is received quickly.
The Delphi decision making process allows researchers to receive accurate solutions and predictions of future events due to the fact that they are consulting experts in a particular field. In comparison to gathering the opinions of individuals who have relatively no experience in an area of study, seeking the advice of experts can be quite advantageous. You will receive legitimate and reliable information that can assist you greatly with your particular issue.
Consulting experts is a practice that always has and always will be of great use in a variety of fields, whether it be medicine, corporate business, or even national security. With the use of the Delphi decision making process, a panel of highly experienced individuals will be able to assist facilitators with answering questions to specific answers. With this efficient method of decision making, a reliable solution is always on the horizon.