The Delphi Technique — What Is It?

The Delphi Technique was originally conceived as a way to obtain the opinion of
experts without necessarily bringing them together face to face. In recent times, however, it has taken on an all new meaning and purpose. In Educating for the New World Order by B. Eakman, the reader finds reference upon reference for the need to preserve the illusion that there is "…lay, or community, participation (in the decisionmaking process), while lay citizens were, in fact, being squeezed out." The Delphi Technique is the method being used to squeeze citizens out of the process, effecting a left-wing take over of the schools. A specialized use of this technique was developed for teachers, the "Alinsky Method" (ibid, p.123). The setting or group is, however, immaterial; the point is that people in groups tend to share a certain knowledge base and display certain identifiable characteristics (known as group dynamics). This allows for a special application of a basic technique. The change agent or facilitator goes through the motions of acting as an organizer, getting each person in the target group to elicit expression of their concerns about a program, project, or policy in question. The facilitator listens attentively, forms "task forces," "urges everyone to make lists," and so on. While s/he is doing this, the facilitator learns something about each member of the target group. S/He identifies the "leaders," the "loud mouths," as well as those who frequently turn sides during the argument — the "weak or noncommittal". Suddenly, the amiable facilitator becomes "devil's advocate." S/He dons his professional agitator hat. Using the "divide and conquer" technique, s/he manipulates one group opinion against the other. This is accomplished by manipulating those who are out of step to appear "ridiculous, unknowledgeable, inarticulate, or dogmatic." S/He wants certain members of the group to become angry, thereby forcing tensions to accelerate. The facilitator is well trained in psychological manipulation. S/He is able to predict the reactions of each group member. Individuals in opposition to the policy or program will be shut out of the group. The method works. It is very effective with parents, teachers, school children, and any community group. The "targets" rarely, if ever, know that they are being manipulated. Or, if they suspect this is happening, do not know how to end the process. The desired result is for group polarization, and for the facilitator to become accepted as a member of the group and group process. S/He will then throw the desired idea on the table and ask for opinions during discussion. Very soon his/her associates from the divided group begin to adopt the idea as if it were their own, and pressure the entire group to accept the proposition. This technique is a very unethical method of achieving consensus on a controversial topic in group settings. It requires well-trained professionals who deliberately

escalate tension among group members, pitting one faction against the other, so as to make one viewpoint appear ridiculous so the other becomes "sensible" whether such is warranted or not. The Delphi Technique is based on the Hegelian Principle of achieving Oneness of Mind through a three step process of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. In thesis and antithesis, all present their opinion or views on a given subject, establishing views and opposing views. In synthesis, opposites are brought together to form the new thesis. All participants are then to accept ownership of the new thesis and support it, changing their own views to align with the new thesis. Through a continual process of evolution, Oneness of Mind will supposedly occur. The theory of the Delphi and the reality of the Delphi are, obviously, quite different — the reality being that Oneness of Mind does not occur but only the illusion of Oneness of Mind with those who refuse to be Delphi'd being alienated from participating in the process. While proponents of education reform feel they are quite justified in this, the effect of this unethical manipulation of people is to create polarized camps. In an effort to maintain the process, advocates have marketed a plethora of publications (such as What's Left After the Right, No Right Turn and If You Don't, They Will) intended to label, castigate, and alienate anyone who does not go along with them. As a result, parents come to understand that their role in education reform is merely perfunctory; that the outcome is preset, that they are not but the rah-rah team so when opposition does arise, advocates of education reform can say, "we had community input." To make sure that the situation is controlled, only those parents who agree with the process are allowed on the restructuring teams. New participants are carefully screened to ensure that education reform goes forward unquestioned. If measurable opposition persists, advocates are told, get the local ministers on board. Take steps to neutralize, by whatever means necessary, the opposition. In some places, opponents have been harassed, both at home and on the job, personal property has been damaged and vandalized, people have lost their jobs. Anyone who does not go along with the restructuring of our society is susceptible to the totalitarian tactics of those promoting education reform – whether it be parents, teachers, principals, superintendents or board members. The need exists for advocates to maintain an iron grip on the process. They cannot, for instance, withstand open public debate of the issues. Therefore, they do not partake in public forums. They cannot withstand the criticism, so they close every avenue for parents to address the issues. They are rapidly creating, through their divisive tactics, a volatile situation. America is being torn apart. Parents, citizens, teachers, principals, superintendents who are opposed to the new purpose being given our American education system need tools to withstand the process being used to bring it in — against the Delphi Technique and consensus which, through their basis in the Hegelian Principle, have Marxist connections and purposes.

First, no opportunity must be left untaken to expose this unethical, divisive process. Second, when this process is used, it can be disrupted. To do so, however, one must be able to recognize when the Delphi Technique is being used, and how to disrupt it.
With thanks to Sandy Vanderberg, Peg Luksik and others.
©March 1996; Lynn M Stuter

Delphi Technique
The delphi technique is another way of obtaining group input for ideas and problem-solving. Unlike the nominal group process, the delphi does not require face-to-face participation. It uses a series of carefully designed questionnaires interspersed with information summaries and feedback from preceding responses. In a planning situation, the delphi can be used to: - Develop a number of alternatives; - Assess the social and economic impacts of rapids community growth; - Explore underlying assumptions or background information leading to different judgments; - Seek out information on which agreement may later be generated; - Correlate informed judgments on a subject involving many disciplines; - Educate respondents on the diverse and interrelated elements of a topic. The delphi begins with the initial development of a questionnaire focusing on the identified problem. An appropriate respondent group is selected, then the questionnaire is mailed to them. Each participant answers the questionnaire independently and returns it. The initiators of the questionnaire summarize responses, then develop a feedback summary and a second questionnaire for the same respondent group. After reviewing the feedback summary, respondents independently rate priority ideas included in the second questionnaire, then mail back the responses. The process is repeated until investigators feel positions are firm and agreement on a topic is reached. A final summary report is issued to the respondent group. the delphi can be modified in many ways. In assessing community needs, the delphi technique could be used for many of the same things as the nominal group process - determining and prioritizing community problems; setting goals; designing needs assessment strategies; planning a conference or community forum; developing improved community services; evaluating alternative plans for community development; or aggregating judgments of special-interest or mutually hostile group. Advantages and Disadvantages of the Delphi Technique for community needs assessment. Advantages - Allows participants to remain anonymous - Inexpensive - Free of social pressure, personality influence and individual dominance - A reliable judgment or forecast results - Allows sharing of information and reasoning among participants -Conducive to independent thinking and gradual formulation

- A well-selected respondent panel - a mix of local official, knowledgeable individuals, members of impacted community regional officials, academic social officials academic social scientists.etc. - can provide a broad analytical perspective on potential growth impacts - Can be used to reach consensus among groups hostile to each other Disadvantages - Judgements are those of a selected group of people and may not be representative - Tendency to eliminate extreme positions and force a middle-of-the-road consensus - More time-consuming than the group process method - Should not be viewed as a total solution to forecasting - Requires skill in written communication - Requires adequate time and participant commitment (about 30-45 days) Sources of additional help: Library Delbecq, Andre, Andrew Van de Ven and David Gustafson, "Group Guide to Nominal group and Delphi Processes." Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman and Co., 1975 Kaufman, Jerome and David Gustafson. "Multi-County Land Use Policy Formation: A Delphi Analysis." Technical Report of the Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, 1973. "Effective Citizen Participation in Transportation Planning, Vol. II, A Catalog of Techniques." U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, D.C.: Federal Highway Administration, Socio-Economic Studies Division, 1976. pp 188-212. Local College or university departments of sociology, political science, planning, economics Major businesses and industries that do forecasting, innovative planning Governors' offices where task forces and commissions have been initiated to look at the future.

Delphi method
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search The Delphi method is a systematic, interactive forecasting method which relies on a panel of independent experts. The carefully selected experts answer questionnaires in two or more rounds. After each round, a facilitator provides an anonymous summary of the experts’ forecasts from the previous round as well as the reasons they provided for their judgments. Thus, participants are encouraged to revise their earlier answers in light of the replies of other members of the group. It is believed that during this process the range of the answers will decrease and the group will converge towards the "correct" answer. Finally, the process is stopped after a pre-defined stop criterion (e.g. number of rounds, achievement of consensus, stability of results) and the mean or median scores of the final rounds determine the results.[1] Delphi [pron: delfI] is based on the principle that forecasts from a structured group of experts are more accurate than those from unstructured groups or individuals.[2] The technique can be adapted for use in face-to-face meetings, and is then called mini-Delphi or Estimate-Talk-Estimate (ETE). Delphi has been widely used for business forecasting and has certain advantages over another structured forecasting approach, prediction markets.[3]

The name "Delphi" derives from the Oracle of Delphi. The authors of the method were not happy with this name, because it implies "something oracular, something smacking a little of the occult". The Delphi method is based on the assumption that group judgments are more valid than individual judgments. The Delphi method was developed at the beginning of the cold war to forecast the impact of technology on warfare.[4] In 1944, General Henry H. Arnold ordered the creation of the report for the U.S. Air Force on the future technological capabilities that might be used by the military. Two years later, Douglas Aircraft company started Project RAND to study "the broad subject of inter-continental warfare other than surface". Different approaches were tried, but the shortcomings of traditional forecasting methods, such as theoretical approach, quantitative models or trend extrapolation, in areas where precise scientific laws have not been established yet, quickly became apparent. To combat these shortcomings, the Delphi method was developed by Project RAND during the 1950-1960s (1959) by Olaf Helmer, Norman Dalkey, and Nicholas Rescher.[5] It has been used ever since, together with various modifications and reformulations, such as the Imen-Delphi procedure. Experts were asked to give their opinion on the probability, frequency and intensity of possible enemy attacks. Other experts could anonymously give feedback. This process was repeated several times until a consensus emerged.

Key characteristics
The following key characteristics of the Delphi method help the participants to focus on the issues at hand and separate Delphi from other methodologies:

Structuring of information flow
The initial contributions from the experts are collected in the form of answers to questionnaires and their comments to these answers. The panel director controls the interactions among the participants by processing the information and filtering out irrelevant content. This avoids the negative effects of face-to-face panel discussions and solves the usual problems of group dynamics.

Regular feedback
Participants comment on their own forecasts, the responses of others and on the progress of the panel as a whole. At any moment they can revise their earlier statements. While in regular group meetings participants tend to stick to previously stated opinions and often conform too much to group leader, the Delphi method prevents it.

Anonymity of the participants
Usually all participants maintain anonymity. Their identity is not revealed even after the completion of the final report. This stops them from dominating others in the process using their authority or personality, frees them to some extent from their personal biases, minimizes the "bandwagon effect" or "halo effect", allows them to freely express their opinions, encourages open critique and admitting errors by revising earlier judgments.

Role of the facilitator
The person coordinating the Delphi method can be known as a facilitator, and facilitates the responses of their panel of experts, who are selected for a reason, usually that they hold knowledge on an opinion or view. The facilitator sends out questionnaires, surveys etc. and if the panel of experts accept, they follow instructions and present their views. Responses are collected and analyzed, then common and conflicting viewpoints are identified. If consensus is not reached, the process continues through thesis and antithesis, to gradually work towards synthesis, and building consensus.

Use in forecasting
First applications of the Delphi method were in the field of science and technology forecasting. The objective of the method was to combine expert opinions on likelihood and expected development time, of the particular technology, in a single indicator. One of the first such reports, prepared in 1964 by Gordon and Helmer, assessed the direction of long-term trends in science and technology development, covering such topics as

scientific breakthroughs, population control, automation, space progress, war prevention and weapon systems. Other forecasts of technology were dealing with vehicle-highway systems, industrial robots, intelligent internet, broadband connections, and technology in education. Later the Delphi method was applied in other areas, especially those related to public policy issues, such as economic trends, health and education. It was also applied successfully and with high accuracy in business forecasting. For example, in one case reported by Basu and Schroeder (1977), the Delphi method predicted the sales of a new product during the first two years with inaccuracy of 3–4% compared with actual sales. Quantitative methods produced errors of 10–15%, and traditional unstructured forecast methods had errors of about 20%.

Overall the track record of the Delphi method is mixed. There have been many cases when the method produced poor results. Still, some authors attribute this to poor application of the method and not to the weaknesses of the method itself. It must also be realized that in areas such as science and technology forecasting the degree of uncertainty is so great that exact and always correct predictions are impossible, so a high degree of error is to be expected. Another particular weakness of the Delphi method is that future developments are not always predicted correctly by consensus of experts. Firstly, the issue of ignorance is important. If panelists are misinformed about a topic, the use of Delphi may add only confidence to their ignorance. Secondly, sometimes unconventional thinking of amateur outsiders may be superior to expert thinking. One of the initial problems of the method was its inability to make complex forecasts with multiple factors. Potential future outcomes were usually considered as if they had no effect on each other. Later on, several extensions to the Delphi method were developed to address this problem, such as cross impact analysis, that takes into consideration the possibility that the occurrence of one event may change probabilities of other events covered in the survey. Still the Delphi method can be used most successfully in forecasting single scalar indicators. Despite these shortcomings, today the Delphi method is a widely accepted forecasting tool and has been used successfully for thousands of studies in areas varying from technology forecasting to drug abuse.[citation needed]

Delphi applications not aiming at consensus
Traditionally the Delphi method has aimed at a consensus of the most probable future by iteration. The Policy Delphi launched by Murray Turoff instead is a decision support method aiming at structuring and discussing the diverse views of the preferred future. The Argument Delphi developed by Osmo Kuusi focuses on ongoing discussion and

finding relevant arguments rather than focusing on the output. The Disaggregative Policy Delphi developed by Petri Tapio uses cluster analysis as a systematic tool to construct various scenarios of the future in the latest Delphi round. The respondent's view on the probable and the preferable future are dealt with as separate cases.

Delphi vs. Prediction Markets
As can be seen from the Methodology Tree of Forecasting, Delphi has characteristics similar to prediction markets as both are structured approaches that aggregate diverse opinions from groups. Yet, there are differences that may be decisive for their relative applicability for different problems.[3] Some advantages of prediction markets derive from the possibility to provide incentives for participation. 1. They can motivate people to participate over a long period of time and to reveal their true beliefs. 2. They aggregate information automatically and instantly incorporate new information in the forecast. 3. Participants do not have to be selected and recruited manually by a facilitator. They themselves decide whether to participate if they think their private information is not yet incorporated in the forecast. Delphi seems to have these advantages over prediction markets: 1. Built-in resistance to manipulation with no incentive structure. 2. Potentially quicker forecasts if experts are readily available. 3. Forecasts may be kept private.

[edit] References
1. ^ Rowe and Wright (1999): The Delphi technique as a forecasting tool: issues and
analysis. International Journal of Forecasting, Volume 15, Issue 4, October 1999.

2. ^ Rowe and Wright (2001): Expert Opinions in Forecasting. Role of the Delphi
Technique. In: Armstrong (Ed.): Principles of Forecasting: A Handbook of Researchers and Practitioners, Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers. 3. ^ a b Green, Armstrong, and Graefe (2007): Methods to Elicit Forecasts from Groups: Delphi and Prediction Markets Compared. Forthcoming in Foresight: The International Journal of Applied Forecasting (Fall 2007). PDF format 4. ^ "JVTE v15n2: The Modified Delphi Technique - A Rotational Modification," Journal of Vocational and Technical Education, Volume 15 Number 2, Spring 1999, web: VTedu-JVTE-v15n2: of Delphi Technique developed by Olaf Helmer and Norman Dalkey. 5. ^ Rescher(1998): Predicting the Future, (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1998).

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