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Critical Factors Activity
Silent Generation Of Ideas In Writing
Read the focus question and ask participants to list their responses in phrases or brief sentences. Work silently and independently on spaces provided below. (Allow four to eight minutes.)

Focus Question
What kinds of plans need to be in place to serve a community if there is a natural disaster?

Key Factors
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Note: In your focus group, using the Nominal Group Process below, list and priority rank your responses.

The Nominal Group Technique
The nominal group process is a method for structuring groups to allow individual judgments to be pooled and used when there is uncertainty or disagreement about the nature of the problem and possible solutions. The process is helpful in identifying problems, exploring solutions, and establishing priorities. It works best with groups of five to nine participants.

Step 1: Round-Robin recording of ideas.
Go around the group, getting one idea from each participant. Write the ideas on newsprint. As each sheet is filled, tape it on the wall so that the entire list is visible. Number each item. Leave space to the left of each number to record votes later. Encourage hitchhiking on other ideas. Discourage discussion, elaboration, or justification.

Step 2: Serial discussion of the list of ideas.
Clarification: The purpose of this step is clarification. Read item one aloud and invite clarifying comments. Then read item two and continue discussing each item in turn until the list is covered. Arguments are unnecessary because each participant will have a chance to vote independently in Step 3. As soon as the logic and meaning of the item are clear, it is time to cut off discussion.

Categorization: Once each item has been discussed, duplicate items should be identified and combined. This may necessitate rewriting some of the items before the voting step. However, resist the temptation to combine many items into broader categories because achieving consensus by this means, the precision of the original items may be lost or the combined item will become so abstract and all-inclusive that the group in effect is able to avoid the difficult choices inherent in priotizing.

Step 3: Voting.
Each participant selects five items that are most important to him or her, writes them down, and rank orders them (1 = least important; 5 = most important). Record the priority of numbers on newsprint in front of the group. The numbers are then added, resulting in a total for each item. Items can then be prioritized -- those items with the highest numbers are considered the highest priority.

Note: Place a star beside the 3 priority concerns...in your collective judgment.

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Last updated November 10, 2004
   

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