If you have high level executives or other influential leaders attending a brainstorming session it can be difficult to elicit honest ideas due to the social pressure present. The term “nominal” is used to describe the limiting of communications to limit the social pressures. Using the nominal technique you conduct the session differently.
1. A facilitator leads the discussion.
2. A group of 4-10 individuals are assembled to generate ideas.
3. Problems are presented individually
4. Prior to discussions, all members write down their ideas on paper for 5-10 minutes.
5. The facilitor then requests than each member read one idea. Each idea is recorded. You can also have the ideas submitted silently or blindly, so the person submitting the idea is anynymous.
6. No discussion is allowed at this point.
7. After the ideas are submitted and listed, clarification, support and evaluation of ideas can begin. Linking together or hitchhiking of similiar ideas is encouraged.
8. Voting for the best ideas, using multivoting or another method can then proceed. You may need several rounds of voting before the “best idea” is found.
As a facilitator, you should allow 60-90 minutes for each a session. The cheif advantage of this technique is that it can help to overcome existitng or perceived social pressues. Independent ideas can be elicited and evaluated on their merit.