What is the nominal group technique?

The nominal group technique leads to a greater degree of discussion and often a more thoughtful decision.

The nominal group technique is a decision-making method that can work as an alternative to traditional voting methods. In traditional voting, solutions are usually decided by a majority. A nominal group method, on the other hand, allows each participant to provide a solution and reason why their solution might best solve a problem. This technique can allow a greater degree of discussion among the group members and can result in a solution that contemplates the ideas presented by each participant.

Some brokers try to create hybrid solutions based on features of different solutions.

When practicing the nominal group technique, each group member has the opportunity to present a solution to a problem. A participant can explain how they arrived at this solution and how it could potentially be beneficial. A moderator makes a list of solutions and can discard solutions that are duplicates of other ideas.

After group members have created a list of solutions, voting takes place. To reach a quick decision, the highest ranking solution can be adopted by a group. Many proponents of the nominal group technique, however, prefer to encourage discussion rather than computed voting.

Discussions by nominal group members can allow participants to realize the benefits and shortcomings of each solution that they have not previously recognized. Some brokers try to create hybrid solutions based on features of different solutions. In doing so, mediators can create a solution that addresses the key concerns of each group member.

Advocates of the nominal group technique believe that this method can give equal value to each individual’s opinion. In many situations, one or two individuals can dominate the conversation, overshadowing ideas offered by less expressive group members. The nominal group technique ensures that each participant has the opportunity to present their perspective.

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Individuals who are dealing with controversial or divisive subjects can also benefit from the nominal group technique. This type of discussion can be heated, and nominal group decision-making can allow participants to better understand the views of their peers. Many nominal group participants find that the individuals they disagree with actually share similar goals and concerns.

Critics of the nominal group technique believe that it is ineffective in dealing with complex problems. This method allows members to discuss only one problem and the corresponding solution at a time. Problems with multiple facets run the risk of oversimplification. Others believe that this technique requires a lot of structure, as a nominal group meeting must be planned in advance. This can make the nominal group technique a poor choice for individuals who need to solve problems quickly.

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