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Tool: Nominal group technique

Typical use (type of issue/project)

To generate high-quality ideas in a group setting immediately following the identification of a problem. Used as an alternative to traditional brainstorming to prevent the impedance of status on output.

Ease of use rating

Used by

Yourself as the facilitator with a cross functional team.

Tips for effective use

As the facilitator you should participate in idea generation stage.

Signals of successful use

Generation of independent thinking alongside interaction. Group members operate independently before ideas are shared, documented and the best ideas are used in priority-setting, action planning, and business case development.

Signals of unsuccessful use

Group members’ output is less honest and creative as it could be due to the effect of high status members.

Links to other tools

Forcefield analysis, and McKinsey 7S.


Nominal group technique

Problem to address:


Individuals present:

Date of assessment:

Anonymous idea generation

Please take ten minutes to write initial ideas that may address the above problem statement privately.

  • Facilitator instructions: complete the fields above, delete facilitator instructions, and distribute this guidelines sheet to all participants. If preferred, enter the ideal amount of time for each step. Participate in idea generation and keep time.

Idea recording

In turn, read one idea aloud with no discussion from the group. Repeat until all ideas are exhausted and duplicates are eliminated.

  • Facilitator instructions: write and number each idea on the flip chart and eliminate duplicate ideas.

Serial discussion

Identify ideas that you would like clarified. Note that this is not a debate but a method to ensure a shared understanding of each idea.

  • Facilitator instructions: address each idea one-by-one, asking for questions from the group. Ensure that discussion promotes a shared understanding of each idea rather than a debate.

Preliminary vote

Privately rank the five ideas that you feel are the most feasible on a scale of 1 to 5 (the best). Write the name of one idea and its rank on each of five pieces of paper provided.

  • Facilitator instructions: participate in voting. Collect the votes, shuffle, and tally the number of points allocated to each idea on the flip chart.

Discussion and continued vote

For the three ideas that received the most points, discuss the relative strengths and weaknesses of these and confirm a group consensus or disagreement.

  • Facilitator instructions: circle the three ideas receiving the most amount of points. Encourage group discussion on each of the three ideas, including strengths and weaknesses of each idea. Write a group report that presents the ideas receiving the most points and key areas of discussion.