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The Nominal Group Technique Cheat Sheet by

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Defining the Nominal Group Technique

Nominal (meaning in name only) group technique (NGT) is a structured variation of a small-­group discussion to each consensus. NGT gathers inform­ation by asking indivi­duals to respond to questions posed by a moderator, and then asking partic­ipants to prioritize the ideas or sugges­tions of all group members. The process prevents the domination of the discussion by a single person, encourages all group members to partic­ipate, and results in a set of priori­tized solutions or recomm­end­ations that represent the group’s prefer­ences

1. Generating Ideas

The moderator presents the question or problem to the group in written form and reads the question to the group. The moderator directs everyone to write ideas in brief phrases or statements and to work silently and indepe­nde­ntly. Each person silently generates ideas and writes them down.

2. Recording Ideas

Group members engage in a round-­robin feedback session to concisely record each idea (without debate at this point). The moderator writes an idea from a group member on a flip chart that is visible to the entire group, and proceeds to ask for another idea from the next group member, and so on. There is no need to repeat ideas; however, if group members believe that an idea provides a different emphasis or variation, feel free to include it. Proceed until all members’ ideas have been documented

3. Discussing Ideas

Each recorded idea is then discussed to determine clarity and import­ance. For each idea, the moderator asks, “Are there any questions or comments group members would like to make about the item?” This step provides an opport­unity for members to express their unders­tanding of the logic and the relative importance of the item. The creator of the idea need not feel obliged to clarify or explain the item; any member of the group can play that role.
 

Nominal Group Technique

4. Voting on Ideas

Indivi­duals vote privately to prioritize the ideas. The votes are tallied to identify the ideas that are rated highest by the group as a whole. The moderator establ­ishes what criteria are used to prioritize the ideas. To start, each group member selects the five most important items from the group list and writes one idea on each index card. Next, each member ranks the five ideas selected, with the most important receiving a rank of 5, and the least important receiving a rank of 1.

After members rank their responses in order of priority, the moderator creates a tally sheet on the flip chart with numbers down the left-hand side of the chart, which correspond to the ideas from the round-­robin. The moderator collects all the cards from the partic­ipants and asks one group member to read the idea number and number of points allocated to each one, while the moderator records and then adds the scores on the tally sheet. The ideas that are the most highly rated by the group are the most favored group actions or ideas in response to the question posed by the moderator.

When to Use NGT

NGT is a good method to use to gain group consensus, for example, when various people (program staff, stakeh­olders, community residents, etc.) are involved in constr­ucting a logic model and the list of outputs for a specific component is too long and therefore has to be priori­tized. In this case, the questions to consider would be: “Which of the outputs listed are most important to achieving our goal and are easier to measure? Which of our outputs are less important to achieving our goal and are more difficult for us to measure?”

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