Nominal Group Technique (NGT)

   

The Nominal Group Technique (NGT), or multi-voting technique, is a methodology for achieving team consensus quickly when the team is ranking several options or alternatives or selecting the best choice among them.  The method basically consists of having each team member come up with his or her personal ranking of the options or choices, and collation of everyone's rankings into the team consensus.

          

The nominal group technique is good for:  1) ensuring equal participation of each member of the team when the team is making a choice among or ranking several options or alternatives; 2) building everyone's commitment to whatever choice or ranking the team makes because everyone was given a fair chance to participate; 3) eliminating peer pressure in the team's selection/ranking process; 4) preventing dominant members from controlling the quiet ones; and 5) making the team's consensus (or lack of it) visible, allowing the major points of disagreements to be discussed and settled objectively.

      

To apply the nominal group technique,  the following steps are usually followed:

           

1) define the central theme for which the nominal group technique is being used; this is usually a problem statement or a question asking for the cause of the problem being addressed;  example:  "Why is our Failure Analysis cycle time so high?"

       

2) through a brainstorming session, generate the list of options or alternatives (e.g., issues, problems, solutions, etc.) pertaining to this central theme, which will be ranked by the team in order of importance; write the options as statements on a flipchart or board;

          

3) clarify the meanings of statements that are not clear and eliminate redundancies;

         

4) finalize the list of options and rewrite the final list on the flipchart, identifying each option with a letter; write the central theme above this final list, in question form if appropriate; for the example of central theme given above, a possible list of options answering the question would be the one shown in Table 1;

    

Table 1.  List of Options for the Example Theme

Why is our Failure Analysis cycle time so high?

A

There are new, unfamiliar  failure mechanisms seen in customer returns.

B

The FA engineers still lack training to complete FA's quickly.

C

The FA lab does not have enough equipment and accessories.

D

There are too many signatories in the FA report approval system.

E

The FA system is not efficient with so many non-value-added requirements.

F

There are not enough FA engineers to handle the incoming work load.

       

5) let each team member rank the options, by writing a number denoting the rank of the option beside the letter identifying the option;  the most important option is usually assigned the highest number, so that any option whose ranking is left blank by any member will not benefit with an increase in its importance; as an example, a team member named John may have a sheet that looks like Table 2;

      

Table 2.  Example of John's Ranking Sheet

John

A

3

B

2

C

6

D

1

E

5

F

4

      

6) combine the ranking of all the members by adding the rank scores of each option in a 'results' table; the option with the highest score is considered to be the most important option per the team's consensus; Table 3 shows an example of the output of a complete nominal group technique cycle for the given theme.

        

Table 3.  Example of a Final Output of an NGT Session

 

John

Ryan

Paula

Randy

Simon

Total

A

3

1

4

4

4

16

B

2

3

1

1

2

9

C

6

5

5

3

6

25

D

1

2

3

2

1

9

E

5

4

2

5

3

19

F

4

6

6

6

5

27

               

In the example above, the team members used the nominal group technique to arrive at the consensus that the most important factor contributing to the problem of 'high Failure Analysis cycle time' is Option F, or lack of FA engineers to handle all the incoming workload. 

   

See Also:  Ishikawa Diagram Matrix Diagram

  

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