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Forecasting Methods Essay

1692 words - 7 pages

This paper addresses four forecasting methods. The first is the Delphi technique, which could be considered one of the core tools of future forecasting. The remaining three are interrelated and consist of environmental scanning, issues management, and emerging issues analysis. These three have in common the aim of surveying the environment to determine likely issues that are going to impact upon an organization, community, or individual. Although, they are similar in this regard, they do differ on the urgency of the issues to be focused on.The Delphi TechniqueEssentially, Delphi is the name given to a set of procedures for eliciting and refining the opinions of a group - usually a panel of experts (Brown, 1968). It is a way whereby a consensus and position of a group of experts is reached after eliciting their opinions on a defined issue and it relies on the "informed intuitive opinions of specialists" (Helmer, 1994). This collective judgment of experts, although made up of subjective opinions, is considered to be more reliable than individual statements and is thus more objective in its outcomes (Masini, 1993). As Linstone and Turoff (1975:3) write, "Delphi may be characterized as a method for structuring a group communication process, so that the process is effective in allowing a group of individuals, as a whole, to deal with a complex problem."Although there are a range of Delphi techniques now in use and adapted for various needs, it is still possible to talk of a broad procedural outline that they follow. Firstly, the subject of the study is circulated to the participants in an unstructured manner to enable them to comment on the issues in question. This material is then synthesized by the monitoring team (one or more people coordinating the study) and distributed to the participants in a questionnaire format. It needs to be mentioned here also that this first round is very often circumvented by the issue being explored comprehensively by the monitoring team which gathers the information and uses it to frame the questions to the respondents. Secondly, a questionnaire is drawn up to ascertain the opinions of the experts and to try and begin to elicit points of convergence and divergence. Thirdly, the questionnaires are distributed repeatedly, each time with the information from previous questionnaires that has been interpreted and reformulated by the coordinating team. The feedback often provides textual and statistical material to participants with the groups response as well as their own and asks them to reconsider their response or if their response is radically different from the group to justify it. The aim is to repeat this process until finally a certain level of consensus or stability is reached. A final report, pulling the responses together, is then prepared by the coordinating team (Masini, 1993).It is very difficult to evaluate the accuracy and reliability of a judgment method such as the Delphi, because the technique is based on...

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