Learn about this group problem-solving and solution generating approach.
Teams that struggle to be productive and efficient in brainstorming and problem-solving sessions may be interested in the nominal group technique (NGT). This approach requires input from everyone involved to help the group come up with a decision that offers the best outcome. Learn more about the approach and its uses below in our short NGT training guide.
What is nominal group technique (NGT)?
NGT is a group process that involves identifying problems, generating solutions, and decision making. Groups of all sizes can work together to make decisions quickly by a vote. The difference here is that every member of the group will share and explain their view of the situation. Then, duplicate solutions are eliminated from the list and the members then rank the remaining solutions from 1st to 2nd and 3rd and so on.
The numbers each solution receives are totaled, and the solution with the highest (most favored) ranking is selected as the final decision.
An alternative version of this method encourages hybrid idea creations where parts of two or more ideas are combined. Through the combination of different aspects of ideas, the group may find that they reach better overall solutions to their initial problem.
Nominal Group Technique Video
Nominal Group Technique Steps
The Wikipedia page is well researched with a fine collection of footnotes and resources and shares these five stages of NGT.
- Introduction and explanation: The facilitator welcomes the participants and explains to them the purpose and procedure of the meeting.
- Silent generation of ideas: The Facilitator provides each participant with a sheet of paper with the question to be addressed and ask them to write down all ideas that come to mind when considering the question. During this period, the facilitator asks participants not to consult or discuss their ideas with others. This stage lasts approximately 10 minutes.
- Sharing ideas: The Facilitator invites participants to share the ideas they have generated. She records each idea on a flip chart using the words spoken by the participant. The round robin process continues until all ideas have been presented. There is no debate about items at this stage and participants are encouraged to write down any new ideas that may arise from what others share. This process ensures all participants get an opportunity to make an equal contribution and provides a written record of all ideas generated by the group. This stage may take 15–30 minutes.
- Group discussion: Participants are invited to seek verbal explanation or further details about any of the ideas that colleagues have produced that may not be clear to them. The facilitator’s task is to ensure that each person is allowed to contribute and that discussion of all ideas is thorough without spending too long on a single idea. It is important to ensure that the process is as neutral as possible, avoiding judgment and criticism. The group may suggest new items for discussion and combine items into categories, but no ideas should be eliminated. This stage lasts 30–45 minutes.
- Voting and ranking: This involves prioritizing the recorded ideas in relation to the original question. Following the voting and ranking process, immediate results in response to the question is available to participants so the meeting concludes having reached a specific outcome.
Uses for NGT
NGT has been applied to many different industries and project areas. When it comes to innovation and design thinking, the technique can prove useful for gathering everyone’s input and coming to a consensus quickly and efficiently. Because of the collaborative and democratic nature of the technique, teams may find themselves more likely to reach better quantity ideas in a faster time frame than some other brainstorming and innovation techniques.
Nominal group technique training options
If you’d like custom assistance walking through an NGT session or facilitating an innovation or design thinking workshop, Innovation Training is here to help! Contact us with any questions you may have!
Nominal Group Technique (NGT) is a fast-paced methodology that can be useful in brainstorming and collaborative problem-solving.
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