Definition: The Nominal Group Technique is a form of brainstorming, wherein a structured meeting is held among the group members where they are required to find solutions to the problem identified for the discussion.
In other words, a systematic and an organized group meeting held among the members to facilitate decision making by properly identifying the problems and generating the solutions thereof. The nominal group technique helps in preventing the discussion being dominated by a single person and hence, allow the silent members, who are quite shy, to speak out their ideas in the group.
The objective of nominal group technique is to resolve the opinion conflicts among the group members by enabling each individual to pen down his/her thoughts about the problem and later discuss it with the entire group to reach the consensus solution. Generally, the nominal group training is comprised of the following steps:
- First of all, the facilitator welcomes all the participants and then briefs about the problem requiring decision.
- The participants are given time to pen down their ideas that come to their minds in reference to the problem being discussed. During this period, each member writes his/her ideas silently without discussing anything with each other.
- Once all the members have written, their ideas are required to share them in front of all the group members. At this stage, the facilitator chalks down the ideas of each group member on the flip chart, thereby giving all the members equal opportunity to share what they feel.
- Once the key points are written on the chart, the members are asked to discuss the points which hey feel requires an explanation. Each member explains his/her mind to the other members and in the meanwhile, the facilitator tries to maintain the discussion as neutral as possible, thereby avoiding the criticism and judgement.
- Once all points are explained, the members are asked to give vote or rank various ideas by prioritizing these in relation to the basic problem, for which the meeting is held.
If the group does not reach a consensus decision, then again the ranks are assigned to the recorded ideas and this process continues till the final decision is arrived.
One of the main advantages of nominal group technique is that it gives all the group members an equal opportunity to speak out their minds. Also, some group members are quite and shy, this method helps them to write down their ideas and discuss with the group members. The major disadvantage is that this technique consumes a lot of time to arrive to a final conclusion and also only one problem can be addressed at a time.