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Nominal Group Technique | Best Tips To Practice in 2024


Jane Ng 03 April, 2024 7 min read

If you're tired of ineffective, time-consuming brainstorming sessions, where people often don't want to speak up or just debate about whose ideas are better. Then the Nominal Group Technique is all you need.

This technique prevents everyone from thinking the same way and encourages them to be creative and excited about group problem-solving. It is not an exaggeration to say that it is a super tool for any group that looks for unique ideas.

So, let's learn about this technique, how it works, and tips for having a successful group brainstorm!

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nominal group technique
Nominal group technique

What Is The Nominal Group Technique?

The Nominal Group Technique (NGT) is a group brainstorming method to generate ideas or solutions to a problem. It's a structured method involving these stages:

  • Participants work independently to generate ideas (they can write on paper, use drawings, etc. depending on them)
  • Participants will then share and present their ideas to the whole team
  • The whole team will discuss and rank given ideas based on a scoring system to see which option is the best.

This method helps to encourage individual creativity, along with involving all participants equally and increasing engagement in the problem-solving process.

When To Use Nominal Group Technique?

Here are some situations where NGT can be especially helpful:

  • When there are many ideas to consider: NGT can help your team organize and prioritize ideas by giving each member an equal opportunity to contribute.
  • When there are limitations to group thinking: NGT helps to reduce the impact of group thinking by encouraging individual creativity and diversity of ideas.
  • When some team members have more vocal than others: NGT ensures that every team member has an equal opportunity to contribute their opinion, regardless of their position.
  • When team members think better in silence: NGT allows individuals to come up with ideas for themselves before sharing them, which can be helpful for those who prefer to work in silence.
  • When team decision-making is needed: NGT can ensure that all team members are involved in the decision-making process and have an equal opinion on the final decision.
  • When a team wants to generate a large number of ideas in a short amount of time, NGT can help to organize and prioritize those ideas.
Source: National Library of Medicine - What's Nominal Group Technique?

Steps Of Nominal Group Technique

Here are typical steps of the Nominal Group Technique: 

  • Step 1 - Introduction: The facilitator/leader introduces the Nominal Group Technique to the team and explains the purpose and objective of the meeting or brainstorming session.
  • Step 2 - Silent ideas generation: Each member thinks of their ideas about the discussed topic or problem, then writes them on paper or a digital platform. This step is for about 10 minutes.
  • Step 3 - Ideas sharing: Team members share/present their ideas in turn with the whole team.
  • Step 4 - Ideas Clarification: After all ideas have been shared, the whole team discusses to clarify each idea. They may ask questions to make sure everyone understands all ideas. This discussion usually lasts 30 - 45 minutes without criticism or judgment.
  • Step 5 - Ideas Ranking: Team members receive a certain number of votes or scores (usually between 1-5) to vote on the ideas they feel are the best or most relevant. This step helps to prioritize ideas and identify the most popular or helpful ideas.
  • Step 6 - Final Discussion: The team will have a final discussion to refine and clarify the top-rated ideas. Then come to an agreement on the most effective solution or action.

By following these stages, the Nominal Group Technique can help you have more brainstorming, effective problem-solving, and decision-making processes.

For Example, here is how you could you the Nominal Group Technique to improve customer service at a retail store

1Introduction and explanationThe facilitator welcomes the participants and explains the purpose and procedure of the meeting: "How to improve customer service". Then provides a brief overview of the NGT.
2Silent ideas generationThe facilitator provides each participant with a paper sheet and asks them to write down all ideas that come to mind when considering this topic above. Participants have 10 minutes to write down their ideas.
3Ideas sharingEach participant presents their ideas, and the facilitator records them on a flip chart or whiteboard. There is no debate or discussion about the ideas at this stage and it ensures all participants get an opportunity to make an equal contribution.
4Ideas ClarificationParticipants can ask for clarification or more details about any ideas of their team members that they may not fully understand. The team can suggest new ideas for discussion and combine ideas into categories, but no ideas may be discarded. This phase lasts 30–45 minutes.
5Ideas RankingParticipants are given a set number of points to vote for the ideas they think might be the best. They can choose to allocate all their points to one idea or distribute them across several ideas. After that, the facilitator tallies up the points for each idea to determine the most important ideas for improving customer service at the store.
6Final DiscussionThe group discusses how to implement the top-ranked ideas and develops a plan of action for making the improvements.

Tips For Using The Nominal Group Technique Effectively

Here are some tips for using the Nominal Group Technique effectively:

  • Clearly define the problem or question to be solved: Ensure that the question is unambiguous and that all participants have a common understanding of the problem.
  • Provide clear instructions: All participants need to understand the Nominal Group Technique process and what will expect of them at each stage.
  • Have a facilitator: Skilled facilitator can keep the discussion focused and ensure that everyone has a chance to participate. They can also manage time and keep the process on track.
  • Encourage participation: Encourage all participants to contribute their ideas and avoid dominating the discussion.
  • Use anonymous voting: Anonymous voting can help reduce bias and encourage honest feedback.
  • Keep the discussion on pace: It is important to keep the discussion focused on the question or issue and avoid digressions.
  • Stick with a structured approach: NGT is a structured approach that encourages people to participate, generate a large number of ideas, and rank them in order of importance. You should stick to the process and make sure your team completes all steps.
  • Use the results: With a lot of valuable information and ideas after the meeting. Be sure to use the results to inform decision-making and problem-solving.

By following these tips, you can help ensure that NGT is used effectively and that the team generates innovative ideas and solutions.

Use AhaSlides to facilitate the NGT process effectively

Key Takeaways 

Hope this article has provided you with useful information about the Nominal Group Technique. It is a powerful method for motivating individuals and groups to generate ideas, solve problems, and make decisions. By following the steps and tips above, your team can come up with creative solutions and make informed decisions.

If you are planning to use the Nominal Group Technique for your next meeting or workshop, consider using AhaSlides to facilitate the process. With our pre-made template library and features, you can easily gather feedback from participants in real time with anonymous mode, making the NGT process even more efficient and engaging.