The Delphi method or Delphi technique (// DEL-fy; also known as Estimate-Talk-Estimate or ETE) is a structured communication technique or method, originally developed as a systematic, interactive forecasting method which relies on a panel of experts. The technique can also be adapted for use in face-to-face meetings, and is then called mini-Delphi. Delphi has been widely used for business forecasting and has certain advantages over another structured forecasting approach, prediction markets.
|Technology assessment and forecasting|
Delphi is based on the principle that forecasts (or decisions) from a structured group of individuals are more accurate than those from unstructured groups. The experts answer questionnaires in two or more rounds. After each round, a facilitator or change agent provides an anonymised summary of the experts' forecasts from the previous round as well as the reasons they provided for their judgments. Thus, experts are encouraged to revise their earlier answers in light of the replies of other members of their panel. It is believed that during this process the range of the answers will decrease and the group will converge towards the "correct" answer. Finally, the process is stopped after a predefined stop criterion (e.g., number of rounds, achievement of consensus, stability of results), and the mean or median scores of the final rounds determine the results.
Special attention has to be paid to the formulation of the Delphi theses and the definition and selection of the experts in order to avoid methodological weaknesses that severely threaten the validity and reliability of the results.