The Delphi Technique: Definition & Example

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  • 0:00 The Delphi Technique
  • 1:07 Step-by-Step Process
  • 4:08 Technique Benefits & Drawbacks
  • 5:13 Lesson Summary
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Instructor
Olga Bugajenko

Olga is a registered PRINCE2 Practitioner and has a master's degree in project management.

Expert Contributor
Steven Scalia

Steven completed a Graduate Degree is Chartered Accountancy at Concordia University. He has performed as Teacher's Assistant and Assistant Lecturer in University.

Learn about the Delphi technique, which allows experts involved in a discussion to reach a consensus about a project. We'll go through the steps and process, as well as the benefits and disadvantages of the technique.

The Delphi Technique

Ever heard the expression 'Two heads are better than one'? It another way of saying that usually people come up with better solutions to problems if they have other people to collaborate with and bounce ideas off of.

Well, if two heads are better than one, a panel of experts is truly great! The Delphi technique, also known as the Delphi method or Delphi forecasting, is a forecasting or estimating method based on a discussion by a group of experts.

The technique consists of several rounds of individual and anonymous questions to each expert, followed by a group discussion after every round. The latter allows participants to reflect and adjust their opinions. The process is usually repeated until a consensus is achieved, usually ending with three or four iterations.

While such discussions can happen in person, an alternative is to send out a series of paper or online questionnaires. In this case, a written summary of all responses is distributed to everyone after each round, instead of a group discussion.

Step-by-Step Process

The Delphi technique is useful for situations that allow for a range of scenarios or opinions, such as estimating the duration of tasks, identifying project risks and forecasting their probability, or allocating the resources.

Let's take a look at the steps by following John, a project manager who needs to estimate how long the construction of a skyscraper will take.

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Additional Activities

The Delphi Technique - A Business Case:

The business case below is designed to allow you to apply your knowledge of The Delphi Technique in a real-life business context.

Context:

You are a top management consultant that specializes in problem-solving and cooperation techniques in business organizations. You receive a call from a new client, Jeff. Jeff is the President of Tommy Shoes, a high-end shoe company that makes designer styles for both men and women.

"I really need your help, consultant. I have to decide how to allocate my marketing budget between my two best-selling shoes: The Tommy Man and the Tommy Girl. Last year, I decided on my own to allocate 80% of the marketing budget to the Tommy Man because I understand Men's shoes best. However, the Tommy Girl shoes performed so well that employees are getting upset that they're missing out on sales because there's an insufficient marketing budget. I usually make all decisions on my own since I'm really hands-on and I'm always short on time, however, I think we can use the input of experts of women's fashion since it's not my specialty. I'm also faced with the problem of the board limiting the amount of capital that I can spend on marketing programs to $500,000. I heard that you specialize in applying The Delphi Technique in businesses. Can you write me an email explaining the steps that you would take?"

Required:

Write the email in a short essay format (minimum 200 words) explaining the steps that you would take to apply The Delphi Technique (Hint: Use the case facts instead of simply relying on the generic information in the lesson). In addition, identify at least 1 benefit and one drawback to applying The Delphi Technique for Tommy Shoes.

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