The Delphi Technique

As we find ourselves more and more exposed to committee meetings, public meetings, and even private ones, particularly with bureaucrats, paper pushers, or local or state level government officials, this bit of news might come in handy.

It’s about the Delphi Technique. From Informed Citizens United

In group settings, the Delphi Technique is an unethical method of achieving consensus on controversial topics.  It requires well-trained professionals, known as “facilitators” or “change agents” who deliberately escalate tension among group members, pitting one faction against another to make a preordained viewpoint appear “sensible,” while making opposing views appear ridiculous.

Who Frequently Uses the Delphi Technique?

Governments, School Administrators, Organizations and Unions.

How Does the Delphi Technique Work?

The facilitator begins by working the crowd to establish a good-guy-bad-guy scenario.  Anyone disagreeing with the facilitator must be made to appear as the bad guy, with the facilitator appearing as the good guy.  To accomplish this, the facilitator seeks out those who disagree and makes them look foolish, inept, or aggressive, which sends a clear message to the rest of the audience that, if they don’t want the same treatment, they must keep quiet.  When the opposition has been identified and alienated, the facilitator becomes the good guy- a friend – and the agenda and the direction of the meeting are established without the audience ever realizing what has happened.


Parents who want to get involved in their child’s education, especially those who challenge fads and experiments or question hiring and promotion decisions, experience the Delphi technique tactics.

At first, these parents will not be rejected rudely or dismissed but welcomed openly and the administrators will listen intently to their concerns.  During the meeting, the administrator will ask if they belong to any local organized groups.  The administrator will share their concerns and gives the impression that things will be addressed shortly.  Then they will pat you on the back, smile and shake your hand and end the meeting.  However, you find out later that nothing seems to happen to address your concerns.

If you remain persistent, the educators will appear affronted.  You will be told that “you are the only one who has complained”.  Subsequently, they will attempt to belittle you and tell you that they take their jobs very seriously and that the safety and well-being of your child is their number one concern.  They will try to persuade you that education is best left to the professionals.  If you get angry or upset, then you will be less likely to persuade others to your point of view and that is exactly what they hope to accomplish with the Delphi Technique.

“Parents who raise questions and concerns are deliberately manipulated by a bureaucratic machine that relentlessly executes its agenda.  School districts are in the business of education but they ignore their customers and still profit from it.  They are public entities but they can denigrate taxpayers who entrust them with the lives and future of their children. ” – Parents Involved in Education of Plano

Top 10 Tactics Frequently Used:

  1. Meetings are held but they make it almost impossible for people to attend or to be involved.
  2. They will only allow the public limited time or limited questions and insist that questions be held until the end of their discussion.
  3. They provide only enough resources to cover part of the problem or deliberately withhold important information.
  4. They appoint many committees using the same key members.
  5. They will pack a meeting to simulate public support for their position on an issue.
  6. They will conduct private close-door sessions without informing citizens with opposing viewpoints of these meetings.
  7. When dealing with politically heated issues they will use “economic blackmail” as a scare tactic such as massive lay-offs, program cuts or safety violations.
  8. They will give the appearance of action without doing anything or set artificial deadlines that are never met.
  9. They will refuse to give out information or make it impossible to get it.
  10. They will engage the public in detailed explanations or debates that are intended to sidetrack the issue or concern.

Diffusing the Delphi Technique:

    • Always be charming, courteous, and pleasant.  Smile.  Moderate your voice so that you do not come across as being aggressive.
    • Stay focused.  Jot down your thoughts or questions ahead of time.  Do not fall for the tactics and make sure that they answer your question.   This may require you to politely repeat your question until you receive an answer.
    • Be persistent.  Continue to politely repeat your question.  Never become angry under any circumstances.
    • A tremendous amount of information is available on the Internet regarding this topic.  Please learn more about this and be prepared to take action.

Copied in its entirety from informed Citizen United

H/T Ann Marie Banfield