What is the Delphi Method?
The Delphi Method is a methodological instrument for collecting and collating opinions and predictions from various experts. Based on the multi-stage, qualitative survey procedure, forecasts for the future should be developed. The idea is based on the assumption that experts in their specific field can make competent assessments regarding important developments. For the success of the Delphi Method, it is essential to interview the right experts.
The Delphi technique owes its name to the so-called Oracle of Delphi. According to Greek legends, it could predict the future to rulers in antiquity. The Delphi survey is also about making predictions about future developments based on expert opinions.
Standard Delphi Method
In the standard method, experts are not allowed to coordinate with each other during the survey but are surveyed separately. Discussions are to be avoided in order to exclude the formation of group dynamics. However, there is a risk that knowledge deficits of individual experts could lead to distorted results.
Broadband Delphi Method
In the broadband method, there is an exchange between the experts. During the survey, there are often group discussions, which can compensate for individual knowledge gaps. However, there is a risk of a uniform consensus formation with this method, which does not take into account all relevant aspects of the topic under investigation.
Procedure of the Delphi Method
As part of the Delphi Method, experts are questioned according to a pre-developed scheme until the desired criteria are met. The principle of the entire process is efficient and simple:
Once a clear survey objective has been defined, the first step is to define a suitable group of experts. One expert is usually not enough to ensure a qualitative result. Therefore, most of the time, two to five qualified experts are used for a survey.
The questionnaire to be used is formulated by an independent person, the moderator. It is important to illuminate the objective of the Delphi survey from all relevant angles. Theses and open questions can be used. Subsequently, the forms are transmitted to the responsible experts.
A certain period is defined to allow respondents to answer a questionnaire. Once the survey is over, the forms are evaluated for the first time.
Subsequently, the experts receive the questionnaires again. These also contain the group results from the first survey round. The presentations are anonymised so that no mutual influence or falsification of the Delphi study is possible.
This survey process is continued until a certain degree of convergence (approximation, agreement of opinions) has been achieved or no more changes in opinion exist.
Application of the Delphi Method in Companies
In large companies, there are various methods to evaluate current trends or to plan and calculate future events appropriately. The Delphi procedure helps to make important decisions and to develop effective strategies in a company. Expert opinions serve to gain insight into future developments.
In companies, the Delphi technique is mainly used in project management, strategy development, market assessment, and marketing. An important advantage in these areas is the low risk of misjudgement. Furthermore, the decision-making aid is relevant for executives and relieves them in everyday corporate life.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Delphi Method is particularly popular in companies, among other things, in the context of project management. Differences of opinion between members of internal project groups can often lead to the failure of an entire development process. With the Delphi Method in project management, consensus can be created in processes again with the help of experts.
The assessment of experts helps to find a joint solution, independent of the influence of individual persons, for a specific problem.
Furthermore, the Delphi method is also used for estimation tasks. For example, when developing a new product, certain relevant trends can be recognised and evaluated by experts.
In addition to its application in companies, the Delphi method is also essential in the medical field. For example, it is used to create guidelines, with the advantage that multiple treating physicians (experts) can be included.
The Delphi Panel, in addition to the Delphi procedure or Delphi study, is another term for the multi-stage and systematic survey method that includes feedback loops. It is an estimation method that serves to predict future events as well as to identify trends and developments. In this method, experts in their respective fields are asked for advice and opinions.
Gabler Wirtschaftslexikon. Delphi-Technik – Definition: Was ist “Delphi-Technik”? Springer Gabler | Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH.
Die Delphi-Methode: So nutzen Entscheidungsträger die Befragung in Stufen. Novustat GmbH, Schweiz.