Delphi Technique

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  • Topic: Forecasting, Delphi method, Technology forecasting
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  • Published : December 29, 2012
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The Delphi method (pron.: /ˈdɛlfaɪ/ del-fy) is a structured communication technique, originally developed as a systematic, interactive forecasting method which relies on a panel of experts.[1] In the standard version, the experts answer questionnaires in two or more rounds. After each round, a facilitator provides an anonymous summary of the experts’ forecasts from the previous round as well as the reasons they provided for their judgments. Thus, experts are encouraged to revise their earlier answers in light of the replies of other members of their panel. It is believed that during this process the range of the answers will decrease and the group will converge towards the "correct" answer. Finally, the process is stopped after a pre-defined stop criterion (e.g. number of rounds, achievement of consensus, stability of results) and the mean or median scores of the final rounds determine the results.[2] Other versions, such as the Policy Delphi,[3] have been designed for normative and explorative use, particularly in the area of social policy and public health.[4] In Europe, more recent web-based experiments have used the Delphi method as a communication technique for interactive decision-making and e-democracy.[5] Delphi is based on the principle that forecasts (or decisions) from a structured group of individuals are more accurate than those from unstructured groups.[6] This has been indicated with the term "collective intelligence".[7] The technique can also be adapted for use in face-to-face meetings, and is then called mini-Delphi or Estimate-Talk-Estimate (ETE). Delphi has been widely used for business forecasting and has certain advantages over another structured forecasting approach, prediction markets.[8] History

The name "Delphi" derives from the Oracle of Delphi. The authors of the method were not happy with this name, because it implies "something oracular, something smacking a little of the occult".[citation needed] The Delphi method is based on the assumption that group judgments are more valid than individual judgments. The Delphi method was developed at the beginning of the Cold War to forecast the impact of technology on warfare.[9] In 1944, General Henry H. Arnold ordered the creation of the report for the U.S. Army Air Corps on the future technological capabilities that might be used by the military. Different approaches were tried, but the shortcomings of traditional forecasting methods, such as theoretical approach, quantitative models or trend extrapolation, in areas where precise scientific laws have not been established yet, quickly became apparent. To combat these shortcomings, the Delphi method was developed by Project RAND during the 1950-1960s (1959) by Olaf Helmer, Norman Dalkey, and Nicholas Rescher.[10] It has been used ever since, together with various modifications and reformulations, such as the Imen-Delphi procedure. Experts were asked to give their opinion on the probability, frequency, and intensity of possible enemy attacks. Other experts could anonymously give feedback. This process was repeated several times until a consensus emerged. [edit]Key characteristics

The Delphi Method communication structure
The following key characteristics of the Delphi method help the participants to focus on the issues at hand and separate Delphi from other methodologies: [edit]Structuring of information flow
The initial contributions from the experts are collected in the form of answers to questionnaires and their comments to these answers. The panel director controls the interactions among the participants by processing the information and filtering out irrelevant content. This avoids the negative effects of face-to-face panel discussions and solves the usual problems of group dynamics. [edit]Regular feedback

Participants comment on their own forecasts, the responses of others and on the progress of the panel as a whole. At any moment they can revise their earlier statements. While in...
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