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The Delphi Process is a means of reaching consensus through structured consultation between a group of people who may have very different perspectives and fields of expertise. It is particularly useful where there is little or no published information on the subject under consideration.
Unlike more familiar consultation methods such as steering groups, the Delphi Process doesn’t need participants to physically meet together and there is no limit on how many people can be involved. Since the process is anonymous, it avoids ‘power struggles’ because there is no opportunity for a strong individual to unduly influence the group and people can change their minds without losing face. The process also enables a combination of many opinions into a group response and can be completed in as short a time as possible.
To ensure anonymity, the Delphi Process uses questionnaires. These involve a number of statements to which participants respond using a ranking system. Reponses are analysed centrally and then fed back to all participants, enabling individuals to change their mind and re-rank their answers if they wish, in light of opinions expressed by the group. The process is repeated until consensus is reached. At the end, a statistical response is arrived at for each statement that equates to the strength of opinion felt by the group. The result can then be used as a benchmark for developing good practice.

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