The Nominal Group Technique is a kind of group-based brainstorming that significantly enables participation from all members resulting in more comprehensive and thoughtful solutions.

How Nominal Group Technique Works

Like many brainstorming techniques, NGT requires a topic that you want to brainstorm, a team of willing participants, and a moderator to keep it all going.

Steps to Follow:

  1. The moderator states the topic for brainstorming and ensures all participants are clear on the topic.
  2. Give all participants a set period of time (5-10 mins) to write their thoughts on paper.
  3. Present each idea to the team once finished.
    • Continue for set period of time or until impractical
  4. Moderator transcribes ideas to a shared visual board.
    • Skip or merge duplicate ideas.
  5. Have each idea discussed by the group.
    • Do not eliminate an idea without team consensus.
    • New ideas may emerge and the moderator should capture them as well.
  6. Use Multivoting to select the path forward.

When to Use Nominal Group Technique

NGT’s approach helps you over come a few specific issues that commonly come up with teams. By having everyone contribute individually then having the moderator bring that together with other ideas and facilitate discussion, several common team situations can be helped.

Try NGT when:

  • You have shy team members.
  • The team tends to defer to a single person or group of people.
  • Team members feel like their voices are not being heard.
  • Teams think better in silence.
  • There are controversial items to discuss.

Specifically in Six Sigma you might use NGT during the Improve Phase when you’re trying to brainstorm ideas to implement, during FMEA exercises, or even during root cause analysis.

Helpful Videos

Six Sigma Black Belt Exam Nominal Group Technique Questions

Question: Which of the following tools should be used when a team is generating and prioritizing a list of options that include highly controversial issues?

(A) Brainstorming
(B) Affinity diagrams
(C) Nominal group technique
(D) 5 whys


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Comments (3)

Good question. They are close. A general feasibility study tends to assess the characteristics of an initiative. You could break it into sections; i.e. technical, economic, operational, scheduling, etc. A SWOT analysis looks at strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. I see the SWOT as more of a competitive analysis while a general feasibility study looks at macro trends. And I would think a SWOT would be a great addition to a general feasibility study.

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