What is the Nominal Group Technique and When to Use it?
The Nominal Group Technique (NGT) is a decision-making tool that can be used in a variety of situations, including strategic planning. It is often used when there is a need to make a decision that requires the input of multiple people. In this blog post, we will discuss when it is best to use the NGT solution and how you can go about using it effectively.
The NGT Solution
The NGT is a versatile tool that can be used in a number of different problem-solving strategies. One example of NGT as a problem-solving strategy is when you need to make a strategic decision that requires input from multiple people. In this case, the NGT can be used to gather input from a variety of stakeholders and come to a consensus about the best course of action. This process can also be used to develop a plan of action and track progress after the decision has been made.
First NGT Experience
I had my first experience with the NGT as a problem-solving strategy. About 20 years ago, I was president of the Mid-South Association of Professional Anthropologists. We had experienced a deep decline in membership in the years prior to my election. So, my first task was to lead our organization to a more engaged community, by identifying the best services to provide and strategies for communicating this with professional anthropologists in the community while including student mentorship. Determined to use anthropological techniques, we brought in an anthropologist Nancy Libby to lead this NGT. We worked together to identify and invite the key stakeholders for a two-session meeting to provide feedback on the organization’s strategy and goals. We spent two days over a weekend and used the NGT, and anthropology pile sorting techniques to achieve our goals.
Learn about anthropology sorting techniques.
Over the next year of implementing NGT as a problem-solving strategy that was outlined by our stakeholders, everything improved. We had more engaging events, and our membership tripled. The board became more engaged and the organization was revived. I was sold on this technique from this point forward.
I since have used this technique to solve local problems in the field and in the office. It is an excellent way to gain buy-in and find a way forward even during difficult times.
When to Use the NGT
The NGT is best used when there is a need to gather input from a group of people and come to a consensus decision. It can be used in business settings, educational settings, or any other type of situation where multiple people need to come to an agreement.
There are a few key indicators that the NGT method would be useful. These include when:
- There is a need to come to a consensus decision
- There is a need for an action plan
- There is a need to track progress after decisions are made
How to Use the NGT
Now that we’ve discussed when it is best to use the NGT for business solutions, let’s look at how you can use it effectively under certain conditions (as mentioned previously). Following are a few steps that you will need to follow in order to use the NGT effectively.
1. Define the problem or opportunity that needs to be addressed
2. Determine who the stakeholders are
3. Bring together stakeholders to Brainstorm possible solutions
4. Evaluate the possible solutions
5. Choose the best solution
6. Develop a plan of action
7. Track progress and make adjustments as needed
If you follow these steps, you will be well on your way to using the NGT effectively. Remember, the NGT is a versatile tool that can be used in a variety of different situations. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to make a decision that requires input from multiple people, don’t hesitate to use the NGT solution.
Like focus group and survey work, the nominal group technique is a process. Not all methods are accessible all the time. If you find difficult conditions prevail, you may want to consider hiring a specialist.
Here are some of the reasons an NGT specialist might be needed when:
- Some of your participants are very vocal compared to others
- There is concern about some members not participating.
- The issue is controversial or there is heated conflict.
- The group has varied ideas about what is needed
- There are new team members
If you find yourself in a situation where one or more of these indicators are present, then it may be that the best option is using the NGT for business solutions.
Basic Steps of NGT
Once you have identified the issue you want to address, follow these steps in order to use the NGT effectively. Now it is time to gather your group of stakeholders for a “no-judgment brainstorming session.” These stakeholders are people who will be involved in the decision-making process. It is also a best practice to include representatives who will be impacted by the decision-making. There are times this perspective will be very useful.
Next, each person in the group brainstorms ideas on their own, writing them down. Once everyone has had a chance to brainstorm, each person will share their ideas with the group. This can be done in any number of ways (sticky notes, whiteboard, whatever works for your group). After all of the ideas have been shared, the group discusses them and comes to a consensus on the best course of action.
The NGT for business development group discussions may include assignments and responsibilities taken. This is useful to address during the NGT process to add accountability to the process and outcomes. Follow-up on follow-through is also outlined which makes NGT for business development a great strategic planning tool.
The NGT is a great tool to use when multiple people need to come to a decision. By following the steps outlined above, you can ensure that everyone’s input is considered and that the best decision is made.
NGP Service Providers
Looking for help with the NGT for business development? Look no further than Nominal Group Technique Specialists. We are experts in using the NGT and can help.
If you’re looking for help with using the NGT or other business solutions, contact GHL Solutions your Nominal Group Technique Specialists today! We would be happy to assist you.
About the Author
Dr. Christina Blanchard-Horan is the Principal Consultant at GHL Solutions.
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