Nominal Group Technique for Project Management

Project managers are often tasked with making complex decisions that require input from a variety of stakeholders. While brainstorming and discussion are valuable tools, sometimes they can be dominated by strong personalities or a lack of focus. This is where the Nominal Group Technique (NGT) comes in. NGT is a structured group decision-making process that promotes equal participation, encourages innovative thinking, and facilitates consensus building.

What is the Nominal Group Technique (NGT)?

NGT is a structured group brainstorming and decision-making technique designed to facilitate generating a variety of ideas and ranking those ideas. This fosters a collaborative environment where everyone feels heard and encouraged to contribute, regardless of their position or background.

Main principles of NGT

NGT works on four key principles:

  • 1. Silent idea generation: Each participant generates ideas independently and quietly, ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to contribute without being influenced by others.
  • 2. Round-Robin Sharing: Participants then share their ideas one by one, with each idea being recorded and displayed for all to see.
  • 3. Discussion and clarification: The group discusses each idea, asking clarifying questions and asking for additional details. This allows a deeper understanding of each proposed solution.
  • 4. Voting and prioritization: Participants vote individually on the ideas they consider most important, prioritizing them based on agreed criteria. It facilitates consensus building and identifies preferred solutions.

Benefits of using NGT in project management

NGT provides many benefits to project management, including:

  • 1. Enhanced creativity and innovation: By encouraging individual idea generation, NGT stimulates creativity and leads to a wider range of possible solutions.
  • 2. Better decision-making: The NGT facilitates collective assessment of ideas, ensuring that decisions are informed by diverse perspectives and a broad understanding of options.
  • 3. Increased team engagement and participation: NGT ensures that everyone has the right to have a say and their views are heard, thereby increasing team engagement and ownership in decisions.
  • 4. Reduction of conflict and groupthink: NGT promotes open communication and respectful dialogue, reduces the risk of conflict, and promotes an environment of collaborative decision-making.
  • 5. Efficient use of time and resources: NGT is a structured and focused process, which allows efficient use of time and resources during meetings.

Applying NGT at various project management stages

NGT can be valuable at various stages of a project lifecycle, including:

  • 1. Project Planning and Initiative: NGT can be used to identify project goals, objectives, and key stakeholders.
  • 2. Risk identification and assessment: Nominal Group Technique can be used to identify potential risks and develop mitigation strategies.
  • 3. Problem-solving and decision-making: NGT facilitates the brainstorming of solutions for intricate problems and enables informed decisions regarding the project’s direction.
  • 4. Conflict resolution and team building: NGT facilitates the resolution of disagreements and enhances team cohesion through fostering open communication and mutual understanding.
  • 5. Project evaluation and closure: NGT evaluates project outcomes, identifies lessons learned, and enhances future project management practices.

Tools and Techniques for NGT Implementation

Several tools and techniques can facilitate the implementation of NGT:

  • 1. Online Collaboration Platforms: Various online platforms allow virtual brainstorming, idea sharing, polling, and real-time collaboration.
  • 2. Brainstorming templates and tools: Templates can guide idea generation, while tools like mind maps can help visualize connections and relationships between ideas.
  • 3. Voting software and apps: Software and apps can streamline the voting process and provide anonymity while encouraging honest participation.
  • 4. Facilitation guides and training materials: Guides can help facilitators conduct NGT sessions effectively, while training materials can help participants understand the process and maximize its benefits.

Challenges and ideas

While the NGT offers valuable benefits, some challenges need to be addressed to implement it effectively:

  • 1. Group size and dynamics: NGT works best with small groups (5-15 participants) to ensure everyone can participate effectively. Group dynamics should also be considered to manage potential dominance or shyness among participants.
  • 2. Time constraints and meeting arrangements: NGT can be time-consuming, requiring careful planning and organization to ensure efficient sessions within the desired time frame.
  • 3. Facilitator Biases and Skills: The facilitator plays a vital role in guiding the process and creating a positive environment. They should be impartial and have the skills to manage group dynamics and encourage active participation.
  • 4. Encourage participation and openness: Facilitators should create an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their ideas, regardless of their confidence level or perceived importance within the team.
  • 5. Reaching consensus and closing the discussion: While NGT promotes discussion and clarification, facilitators should manage time effectively and steer the group toward consensus without undue pressure or rushing the decision-making process. Should guide.

Best Practices for NGT Success

Here are some best practices to ensure successful implementation of NGT:

  • 1. Clear objectives and agenda setting: Clearly define the objectives and goals of the NGT session before the meeting, and establish a well-structured agenda that guides the discussion.
  • 2. Set ground rules and expectations: Set ground rules for respectful communication, active participation, and anonymity during voting to ensure a fair and inclusive environment.
  • 3. Active and Engaged Facilitation: The facilitator’s active involvement throughout the process involves guiding discussions, asking clarifying questions, and ensuring everyone gets a chance to participate.
  • 4. Open communication and respectful dialogue: Encourage open communication and respectful dialogue during discussions, acknowledge different viewpoints, and promote collaboration.
  • 5. Continuous Improvement and Feedback: Seek continuous feedback from participants to improve the NGT process and increase its effectiveness in future project management efforts.


The Nominal Group technique is a valuable tool for project managers who want to improve their decision-making processes, foster team collaboration, and foster creativity and innovation. By understanding its principles, applying best practices, and addressing potential challenges, project teams can leverage NGT to achieve optimal project outcomes.

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1. Is NGT suitable for all project situations?

NGT is a versatile technique applicable to a variety of project situations, but it may not be ideal for situations requiring quick decisions or immediate action.

2. How can I know more about the NGT facility?

There are several online resources and training programs available to provide further information and guidance on NGT facilitation best practices.

3. What are some alternative decision-making techniques?

Alternative decision-making techniques include brainstorming, the Delphi method, and multiple-polling methods. The suitability of each technique depends on the specific project context and desired outcomes.

4. How can I ensure the effectiveness of NGT in my project team?

Adapting the NGT process to your team dynamics and communication style, providing clear instructions, and actively soliciting feedback can significantly increase its effectiveness.

5. How can I evaluate the success of NGT implementation?

Evaluate the success of the NGT by measuring the quality of ideas generated, the level of team participation, and overall satisfaction with the decision-making process.

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