How to use it
Make sure the objective of the session is clearly displayed, for
example by writing it on a whiteboard, and ensure everyone understands it.
Silent writing of ideas
Silently and privately, the team writes down their thoughts and ideas
on 3" x 5" cards. When individuals have finished, they should wait quietly
for others to finish.
Share and understand
The leader collects the cards, shuffles them (to ensure individual
people's ideas are not in batches), then reads them out, one at a time. If
the idea is unclear, the team may discuss it, but only for clarification
of meaning, not general debate.
The agreed final wording is then transcribed onto a flipchart or other
surface that can be easily read by the whole team. If it is agreed that
the point from a card has already been transcribed, then it need not be
When all cards are transcribed and their meanings understood,
vote on which are to be selected. Voting is done
by each member of the team, silently and privately writing down votes for
the listed ideas. Each vote is written on a 3" x 5" card, along with the
text of the item for which the vote is being cast.
A product line team cannot agree on the best sound-proofing for a plate
press, and the production manager will not pay until they agree. They get
the line facilitator to run an NGT session to help uncover the real
problems. This reveals that a couple of people have preferred brands and
no trials have been done. After a visit to a local trade show and internal
trials, they agree on a compromise system.
How it works
The Nominal Group Technique (or NGT) provides a structured method of
collecting and organizing the thoughts of a group. This is done in a way
that prevents the originator of individual thoughts becoming known. Hence
it is a 'nominal' group.
This anonymous gathering of ideas results in the loss of the
synergistic benefits of Brainstorming, where people key off each others
ideas. However, many 'Brainstorming' sessions are in fact solely used for
gathering the opinions of the group, rather than the original purpose of
creative idea generation. In such circumstances, NGT is a quite suitable