What is the Delphi Method?

The Delphi Method was developed in the 1950’s by mathematicians Norman Dalkey and Olaf Hermes, just around the time of the Cold War to predict the impact that technology would have on the world.

It is a technique based on a panel of 5 to 10 experts on a complex topic to be discussed, in order to obtain qualitative but relatively accurate information and opinions about the future. Its functionality is to reduce to the maximum the different predictive possibilities or forecasts, that is to say, it simplifies the result of a complex work, thanks to the group opinion of experts.

The Delphi Method involves three groups of people. Firstly, there are the experts who must be previously selected strategically and anonymously, no one can know their identity.

They prepare, distribute, collect and summarize questionnaires that will be applied to the third group involved, which are the experts on the subject; they must be located in different places to obtain a representative and reliable sample.

To read: Qualitative Research: Definition, Types, Methods and Examples.

Steps to carry out the Delphi Method

The Delphi method process is broadly defined in four steps:

  1. Defining the objectives
  2. Selection of experts
  3. Elaboration and launching of questionnaires
  4. Use of the results

Characteristics of the Delphi method

  • Anonymous experts, experts may know each other but not identify opinions based on the ideas of the consultation.
  • Iteration and controlled feedback: present the same questionnaire several times.
  • Responses of the group in a statistical way; the information is the opinion of the experts according to the degree of agreement that has been obtained.
  • In the panel of experts there is heterogeneity, i.e., experts from certain branches of activity may participate.

Advantages and disadvantages of the Delphi method

Some of the benefits of applying the Delphi technique are:

  • It provides different analysis and information on complex issues.
  • Highly objective thinking is formed.
  • Decisions based on experts are likely to be efficient.
  • It is possible to have a wide variety of options to decide.
  • Because it is anonymous, it avoids conflicts between experts and encourages creative participation.
  • The expert is fully involved in the solution of the conflict and facilitates implementation.

As in everything, the method has disadvantages, among them:

  • It is a long and tedious process, as it requires going over twice to obtain the desired result.
  • It is a costly method because it requires the intervention of experts and other materials.
  • It is necessary to have good communication to economize the search and reception of answers.
  • The criteria are subjective and often influenced.

To read: Thurstone Scale: Definition, Survey Questions with Examples

Uses of the Delphi Method

The uses of the Delphi method are very diverse, since the information it needs comes from the experience and knowledge of the experts.

As there is feedback, it is possible for participants to reflect and have a greater understanding based on different perspectives, which may be necessary to generate meanings and agreements in situations where a comparative analysis is required.

The Delphi method allows you to act independently and adapts its dynamics to the research objectives.

The Delphi method will help you make strategic decisions, as the objective or experience-based opinion of a group of specialists will always be of higher quality compared to the opinion of a single individual.

So, if we want help to determine the future evolution of an element through prospecting techniques, The Delphi Method is the system to reach out to. For a company or organization, this is a great way to make market analysis and predictions. Learn everything your company needs from the experts. In QuestioPro we can help you out.

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