Improved Nominal Group Technique

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Improved Nominal Group Technique is a extension of Nominal Group Technique described by William Fox with an additional pre-meeting stage which ensures full anonymity of contributions and speeds up transcription phases.

INGT is used for only one of the following purposes at a time:

  • the identification and prioritisation of problems or opportunities;
  • determination of the best solution for a given problem;
  • development of an implementation plan for a high-priority opportunity;
  • the debugging and refinement of an existing, or proposed, policy manual or other document.

Advance Preparation

  1. Information about INGT and its procedures should be distributed, and potential participants asked if they are willing to give it a try.
  2. Preferably, the purpose of the scheduled meeting is stated with sufficient time in advance of it for participants to drop anonymous inputs into a box at a nonmonitored location, and the numbering, duplication, and distribution of these inputs to them with time for them to reflect upon them. Also, they are asked to take the list to the scheduled meeting. Note: If there is insufficient time for advanced duplication and distribution, participants are asked to prepare anonymous 3x5 cards to input at the beginning of the meeting.
  3. When the numbered and duplicated inputs are distributed to the participants in advance of a scheduled meeting, they are asked to jot down, anonymously, on 3x5 cards any additional inputs they wish to make at the meeting.

If the distributed inputs are proposed solutions from an assigned individual or committee for a problem-solving meeting, they go with the request that any perceived deficiencies or inconsistencies be reported back, anonymously, to the distributor. The distributor then gives any such inputs to the author (or authors if a committee) with the option of revision and resubmission prior to distribution to the participants.

The Meeting

  1. If there was a precirculated and numbered list of premeeting inputs, ensure that all participants have a copy. If not, anonymous-input 3x5 cards are collected by requesting that everyone submit a card - blank or other-wise - facedown on the table. These are shuffled and then transcribed to flipchart pages.
  2. The Discussion Phase begins: Items are dealt with in sequence as they appear on the pre-meeting distribution sheet (if there is one) and on the flipchart pages. Anyone may seek clarification as to what an item means, speak for or against it, but debate and personal criticisms are not permitted. Opportunity is presented for all items to be discussed before any voting takes place.
    Anyone may propose the rewording of an item or the combination of similar items (however the purpose here is not consolidation, per se - voters should have an optimal number of items to choose from). The leader asks if anyone objects to the proposed change, and it takes only one non-discussed objection to block it; however, the proposer is free to verbally input it as a new flipchart item.
    During this phase, participants may prepare 3x5 cards for anonymous inputting via periodic card-collection rounds (at which everyone inputs a card - blank or otherwise). These are continued until all inputted cards are blank.
    Authorship of an anonymously inputted display item remains anonymous, unless the author wishes to provide non-coerced identification.
  3. The Voting Phase: If the meeting is for the identification and prioritisation of problems or opportunities, a good rule-of-thumb is to ask participants to indicate, anonymously, on 3x5 cards the 15% most-important items, giving the most important the highest score. For example, if there are 40 remaining display items, 15% equals six items. So, the most important item number would receive a 6, the second most important a 5, and so on. The voting results are displayed on a flipchart page. Typically, several items will be clearcut winners, and there will be ten or so that are very close or almost tied. When this occurs, it is useful to reopen the Discussion Phase just for these items, and to have a vote just for them, to determine several more "winners" to add to the winners of the first vote.
  4. Individuals or Committees are then assigned the task of producing written, proposed solutions for each of the top-priority problems or implementation plans for each of the top-priority opportunities. This sets the stage for each proposed solution or opportunity-implementation plan to be dealt with in a separate INGT meeting.

For more info see:

Title: The Improved Nominal Group Technique (INGT)
Author(s): William M. Fox
Journal: Journal of Management Development
Year: 1989
Volume: 8
Issue: 1
Page: 20 - 27
ISSN: 0262-1711


Effective Group Problem Solving: How to broaden participation, improve decision making, and increase commitment to action ISBN 1555420338