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 you want to discuss, a team of willing members, and a moderator to keep it all going.

Steps to Follow:

  1. The moderator states the topic for discussion and then ensures all team members are clear on the topic.
  2. Accordingly, they give all team members a set period of time (5-10 mins) to write their thoughts on paper.
  3. Once the individual is finished, present each idea to the team.
    • Continue for a set period of time or until impractical.
  4. The moderator will then write ideas on a shared visual board.
    • Skip or merge repeated ideas.
  5. Have each idea discussed by the group.
    • Do not discard 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 overcome a few specific issues that commonly come up with teams. By having everyone come up with ideas as individuals and then having the moderator bring them together with the other ideas and promote discussion, several common team situations can be helped.

Especially 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 apply to a project, 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 generates and ranks 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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(C) Nominal Group Technique. Brainstorming is a good answer, but not enough. Affinity diagrams are useful for organizing the output. At the same time, 5 whys are a great way of getting to a root cause of an issue.

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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