Definition: The Delphi Technique refers to the systematic forecasting method used to gather opinions of the panel of experts on the problem being encountered, through the questionnaires, often sent through mail. In other words, a set of opinions pertaining to a specific problem, obtained in writing usually through questionnaires from several experts in the specific field is called as a Delphi technique.
In a Delphi technique, the group facilitator or the change agent aggregates all the anonymous opinions received through the questionnaires, sent two or three times to the same set of experts. The experts are required to give justification for the answers given in the first questionnaire and on the basis of it, the revised questionnaire is prepared and is again sent to the same group of experts.
The experts can modify their answers in accordance with the replies given by other panel members. The objective of a Delphi technique is to reach to the most accurate answer by decreasing the number of solutions each time the questionnaire is sent to the group of experts. The experts are required to give their opinion every time the questionnaire is received, and this process continues until the issues are narrowed, responses are focused, and the consensus is reached.
In a Delphi technique, the identity of the group members is not revealed, and they are not even required to gather for a physical meeting. Each member is free to give his opinion with respect to the problem, thereby avoiding the influential effect that a powerful or authoritative member can have on the other group members.
This technique is quite advantageous as diverse opinions can be gathered from the large pool of experts who might be geographically separated. Also, the quality of decision gets improved as the expertise of each group member is capitalized to reach to a final solution.