Disrupting the Delphi
By Lynn M Stuter
Note: The Delphi is being used at all
levels of government to move meetings to preset conclusions. For the
purposes of this dissertation, facilitator references anyone who has
been trained in use of the Delphi and who is running a meeting.
There are three steps to diffusing the Delphi Technique when
facilitators want to steer a group in a specific direction.
1. Always be charming. Smile. Be pleasant. Be Courteous. Moderate your
voice so as not to come across as belligerent or aggressive.
2. Stay focused. If at all possible, write your question down to help
you stay focused. Facilitators, when asked questions they don't want to
answer, often digress from the issue raised and try to work the
conversation around to where they can make the individual asking the
question look foolish. feel foolish, appear belligerent of aggressive.
The goal is to put the one asking the question on the defensive. Do not
fall for this tact. Always be charming, thus deflecting any insinuation,
innuendo, etc. that may be thrown at you in their attempt to put you on
the defensive, but bring them back to the question you asked. If they
rephrase your question into an accusatory statement (a favorite tactic)
simply state, "That is not what I stated. What I asked
was...[repeat your question.]"
3. Be persistent. If putting you on the defensive doesn't work,
facilitators often resort to long, drawn out dissertations on some off
the wall and usually unrelated or vaguely related subject that drags on
for several minutes. During that time, the crowd or group usually loses
focus on the question asked (which is the intent). Let them
finish with their dissertation or expose. Then nicely with focus and
persistence, state, "But you didn't answer my question. My question
is ..." and repeat your question.
Always be charming, stay focused and be persistent.
Never, under any circumstance, become angry. Anger directed at the
facilitator will immediately make the facilitator the victim. This
defeats the purpose which is to make you the victim. The goal of the
facilitator is to make those they are facilitating like them, alienating
anyone who might pose a threat to the realization of their agenda.
[People with fixed belief systems, who know what they believe and stand
on what they believe are obvious threats.] If the participant becomes
the victim, the facilitator loses face and favor with the crowd. This is
why crowds are broken up into groups of seven or eight, why objections
are written on cards, not voiced aloud where they are open to public
discussion and public debate. It's called crowd control.
It is always good to have someone else, or two or three others who know
the Delphi Technique dispersed through the crowd; who, when the
facilitator digresses from the question, will stand up and say nicely,
"But you didn't answer that lady's/gentleman's question." The
facilitator, even if suspecting you are together, certainly will not
want to alienate the crowd by making that accusation. Sometimes it only
takes one occurrence of this type for the crowd to figure out what is
going on. Sometimes it takes more than one.
If you have an organized group, meet before the meeting to strategize.
Everyone should know their part. Meet after the meeting to analyze what
went right, what went wrong and why, and what needs to happen the next
time around. Never meet during the meeting. One of the favorite tactics
of the facilitator if the meeting is not going the way they want if they
are meeting measurable resistance, is to call a recess. During the
recess, the facilitator and his/her spotters (people who wander the room
during the course of the meeting, watching the crowd) watch the crowd to
see who congregates where, especially those who have offered measurable
If the resistors congregate in one place, a spotter will usually
gravitate to that group to join in the conversation and will report back
to the facilitator. When the meeting resumes, the facilitator will steer
clear of those who are resistors. Do not congregate. Hang loose and work
the crowd. Move to where the facilitators or spotters are. Listen to
what they have to say, but do not gravitate to where another member of
you team is.
This strategy also works in face to face, one on one, meeting with
anyone who has been trained in how to use the Delphi Technique.
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