Resources - Quality Systems

Nominal Group Technique

Description The NGT is another tool used to reach a group consensus. When priorities or rankings must be established, this decision-making process can be used. NGT is similar to brainstorming and the Delphi technique, but it is a structured approach that is oriented toward more specialized problems. The group should be small (i.e., only 10 to 15 people), and every member of the group is required to participate. This technique is often categorized as a silent brainstorming session with a decision analysis process.

Application The nominal group technique is an effective tool for producing many ideas and/or solutions in a short time. The technique can be used for many of the same applications as brainstorming and the Delphi technique. Company internal technical problems can be solved, personality clashes can be overcome, and NGT can be used to develop new ideas to satisfy a particular problem.

Procedures The NGT is applied in the following manner:

  1. Generate the idea for discussion-a facilitator presents the problem and instructions to the team.
  2. The team quietly generates ideas for 5 to 15 minutes. No discussion is allowed and no one leaves until everyone is finished.
  3. The facilitator gathers the ideas round-robin and posts them in no particular order on a flip chart.
  4. The ideas are then discussed by the group; no arguments, just clarifications. Duplications are eliminated.
  5. Each member of the group silently sets priorities on the ideas.
  6. The group votes to establish the priority or rank of each idea.
  7. The votes are tabulated and an action plan is developed.

Advantages NGT is very effective in producing many new ideas/solutions in a short time.


  1. Assembling the group participants is difficult/time-consuming.
  2. Limiting discussion often limits full understanding of others ideas, with consequent divergence of weighting factors as a likely result.

Source: System Engineering "Toolbox" for Design-Oriented Engineers, Sec 7. - NASA/RP-1358

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