The Nominal Group Technique

Subtitle / abstract : 7 + 7 = 7
Domain of activity : Animation of group
Objective of the tool/method : Pedagogical objectives :
- Develop group creativity
- Enable participation of all within a group
- Ranking and making a group decision

Operational objectives :
This method can be used to draw up a list of issues, problems, options, ideas, or indicators and then rank them, make choices or reach a consensus.
Description of the tool : The advantage of this technique is that it enables everyone to express themselves both in the idea creation phases and in the choices/rankings to be established. There is no undue influence because everything is carried out in silence except the clarification phases.
The end result of this technique is a set of individual, freely established, ideas enabling a group to work towards a consensus without pressure from a given group or dominant person(s).
The session takes 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of the group.

Procedure :

1. Presentation of the subject and the instructions: the leader presents the subject, issue or problem. He/she defines the maximum number of ideas to be returned. The higher the number, the more difficult the session is to manage. An ideal number is 3 to 7. Here we will refer to a session with 7 ideas. 5 minutes

2. Clarification : the participants ask for more information in order to understand the instructions and/or to get more details about the subject. 7-8 minutes

3. The participants think on their own, in silence, and write down their 7 proposals. 5-10 minutes

4. Confrontation of proposals and an initial ranking phase in small groups: in groups of 2 or 3, the participants share their 7 proposals, 14 or 21 in all. They must retain just 7 proposals and write these down. This gives rise to a discussion phase where similar ideas cans be merged and certain proposals re-written. 15 minutes

5. Confrontation of proposals and a second ranking phase in a medium sized group: each duo or trio joins up with another. They repeat the above phase with a view to retaining just 7 proposals. 15 minutes

6. Plenary negotiation: each group presents and/or displays their proposals and explains the choices made via a representative. Here again, a consensus is required but you may choose to slightly widen the choice and, for example, choose 10 proposals. 20 minutes.

Variation :
- Draw up or create (e.g. through brainstorming), a list of issues, questions, actions… which have to be ranked.
- Each participant then individually, and in silence, ranks the different proposals. If there are 10 proposals he/she gives 10 points to the highest priority, 9 to the next and so on.
- The total score for each item enables a ranking in order of importance or priority.
More information : Articulation with other techniques :
The Nominal Group can be combined with a prior brainstorming in order to establish a set of ideas, subjects, issues...

Similarly, you can set up an ambassador system and a negotiation table for the 6th phase of the sequence. A negotiation table is set up in the middle of the room and the other tables are positioned around this. An ambassador for each group is sent to the negotiation table on behalf of each group. The ambassador may break off negotiations at any time in order to return to the group and discuss or share any new information. A supervisor moderates these exchanges. Team members must not make any noise nor intervene in the proceedings at the negotiation table.
Succes factor : The leader must be firm and attentive in ensuring that the exchanges during the clarification phase remain focused on clarification, with the risk of losing the independence or non-influence interest of the activity.
Contact : Marie-Laure Girault
Address : 9 rue Célestin Freinet 48400 FLORAC
Author of the index card : Marie-Laure Girault
Author structure : Institut d'éducation à l'agro-environnement de Florac