Seals-S.doc - The Delphi Technique how to achieve a...

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The Delphi Technique: how to achieve a workable consensus within time limits Author: Susan Seals Source: "The world can therefore seize the opportunity (Persian Gulf crisis) to fulfill the long-held promise of a New World Order where diverse nations are drawn together in common cause to achieve the universal aspirations of mankind." George H.W. Bush The information below describes how "consensus" is falsely reached within a group when a person manipulates the group using the DELPHI TECHNIQUE, a RAND Corp. development. The latter part describes how to neutralize this manipulation and gives a case study. Although many are critical of the technique and claim it is not valid, the method is effective in moving a group's opinion to a desired end. It was used during a local debate where I debated against a Proposed Home Rule Charter as a new form of county government. The Home Rule Advocates were coached by the DCA (Department of Community Affairs) located in our State capitol, Harrisburg. Many may be critical of the supposed hard science of the technique and the statistics generated by the questions asked in Delphi surveys. There is no hard science on this method. That part is true. On the side of "soft science", and the way meetings are facilitated by this method, Delphi is a highly effective means of consensus building. This method could also be applied to Internet discussion groups etc. The Delphi Technique was originally conceived as a way to obtain the opinion of experts without necessarily bringing them together face to face. In Educating for the New World Order by Bev Eakman, the reader finds reference upon reference for the need to preserve the illusion that there is lay, or community, participation in the decision making process, while in fact lay citizens are being squeezed out . A specialized use of this technique was developed for teachers, the Alinsky Method (ibid., p. 123). The setting or group is, however, immaterial. The point is that people in groups tend to share a certain knowledge base and display certain identifiable characteristic (known as group dynamics). This allows for a special application of a basic technique. The change agent or facilitator goes through the motions of acting as an organizer, getting each person in the target group to elicit expression of their concerns about a program, project, or policy in question. The facilitator listens attentively, forms task forces, urges everyone to make lists and so on. While he/she is doing this, the facilitator learns something about each member of the target group. He/she identifies the leaders, the loud mouths, as well as those who frequently turn sides during the argument - the weak or non- committal. Suddenly, the amiable facilitator becomes devil's advocate. He/she dons his/her professional agitator hat. Using the divide and conquer technique, he/she manipulates one group opinion against the other. This is
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