Several techniques have been developed to make groups more effective at generating innovative and useful ideas. The groups are:- 1. Brainstorming 2. Nominal Group Technique (NGT) 3. Delphi Technique (DT).
Technique # 1. Brainstorming:
Brainstorming may be defined as “a conference technique (by the formation of a group) of solving specific problems, gathering information, and stimulating creative thinking. The basic technique is to encourage unrestrained and spontaneous participation by group members, thus, leading to free association.”
A group technique aids creativity. Group success primarily depends on two psychological phenomena:
(i) Free association:
A process of producing ideas in rapid succession. The group leader presents the original idea which stimulates a chain reaction of additional ideas.
(ii) Social facilitation:
A process in which the productivity of each individual is increased by the stimulation provided by other members of the group.
The technique of brainstorming, developed by Alex F. Osborn, was originally used as an aid to produce ideas for an advertising agency. Since that time, it has been used in many other situations to produce a large number of new solutions to specific problems.
In order to develop the desired quantity of ideas, an atmosphere conducive to free association is developed. The group leader announces the objective and cautions participants against being critical of their own or others’ ideas. The leader encourages freewheeling, uninhibited thinking. Occasionally, checklists and suggestions for developing new ideas are distributed to the group.
One such list, developed by Osborn, is as follows:
(i) Put to other uses,
(viii) Reverse, and
This technique of brainstorming contains strict series of rules, such as:
1. Do not dispute any ideas/suggestions (This hinders flow of new/novel ideas).
2. Jot down ideas even if they are repetitions (whole or part).
3. Do not evaluate ideas (good or bad).
4. Repeat ideas are fine.
5. Using and adding to someone else’s idea is comfortable.
6. Silence does not necessarily signify the end of the ‘creative process’; it is generally the precursor to ‘Generation of New Ideas’.
7. Having a broad range of ideas is better than restricting these to a chosen few.
When a problem is relatively simple and specific but requires an original solution, brainstorming may provide the answer.
Brainstorming technique has certain drawbacks too. It is time consuming. It sometimes produces only superficial ideas. It again requires time to evaluate the ideas generated. Nonetheless, it aids creative thinking.
Technique # 2. Nominal Group Technique (NGT):
The NGT is a structured group decision-making process that is normally used in administration decision-making and planning, when a large number of individuals need to have inputs to a decision.
The NGT technique proceeds according to the following:
(i) The ideas are generated silently in writing.
(ii) The feedback is provided from one group member to another to record each idea in a terse phrase on a flip chart.
(iii) Discussion is conducted for each recorded idea for clarification and evaluation.
(iv) An individual rating is held on priority of ideas in order to mathematically derive a rank ordering or rating.
The NGT is an appropriate group process to use when the decision-making process is complex and calls for the pooling or aggregation of individual judgments. It does not provide quick information exchange and is not the appropriate technique for negotiations or bargaining, nor is it appropriate as policy setting in a representative body.
The NGT is more appropriate for the diagnosis and analysis stages, particularly SWOT analysis.
The NGT has certain limitations. It is time consuming, requires extensive facilities for groups, and is limited to one problem per session.
Technique # 3. Delphi Technique (DT):
The Delphi technique involves the solicitation and comparison of anonymous judgments on the topic of interest through a set of sequential questionnaires that are inter-spread with summarised information and feedback of opinions from earlier responses.
Like NGT, Delphi technique is a means for aggregating the judgments of knowledgeable individuals in order to improve the quality of decision-making.
DT is administered through a series of questionnaires, the first of which asks individuals to respond to a broad question.
For example, one study called on a panel of retailers to predict the future trend in retailing. Subsequent questionnaires are built on summary responses to the first questionnaire. This process stops when consensus has been approached by the participants.
Like NGT, Delphi technique can be used to help identify problems and problem situations. It is particularly useful in clarifying positions in pre-conference training.
Recently, some multinational corporations used DT to rank all of the diverse variables that affect political risk in international investment. By so doing they could classify countries in which they have an interest on a high, moderate, or low-risk basis.
The basic limitation with DT is that it requires high participant motivation since a leader is not present to prompt response.