PMP Group Creativity Techniques: Nominal Group Technique vs Brainstorming for PMP Exam

PMP Group Creativity Techniques: Nominal Group Technique vs Brainstorming for PMP Exam

Nominal Group Technique and Brainstorming are two Group Creativity Techniques named as PMBOK® Guide ITTOs. These two are indeed quite similar as they both include the generation of ideas / requirements e.g. in identifying project requirements. Yet, there are some major differences between Nominal Group Technique and Brainstorming that Aspirants should understand in order to identify the correct ITTOs for the processes.

This article will help Aspirants to differentiate between Nominal Group Technique and Brainstorming for the Exam.

Article Highlights

Nominal Group Technique vs Brainstorming

  • Nominal Group Technique: The Nominal Group Technique is a technique for small group discussion in which ideas / requirements are ranked / prioritized by all the members of the group after generation of all the ideas / requirements.
    • The Nominal Group Technique was originally developed by Delbecq and VandeVen as an alternative to brainstorming.
    • The Nominal Group Technique prevents domination of a single person over the discussion by allowing the voices of all members to be represented.
    • Steps:
      • All the participants are divided into small groups of 5 or 6
      • Each group member are allowed several minutes to brainstorm their requirements / ideas separately
      • All the requirements / ideas are presented and recorded, no criticism is allowed
      • After clarifications, all the requirements / ideas are ranked / prioritized by all group members (e.g. by giving points based on their merits)
  • Brainstorming: Brainstorming is a group creativity technique in which member(s) are allowed to generate as many ideas / requirements as possible without criticism.
    • Ground rules: no “NO”s and criticisms are allowed.
    • Participants are safe to present their own creative ideas even though some ideas are unrealistic / absurd.
    • All generated ideas / requirements are recorded without any assessments.

Both Nominal Group Technique and Brainstorming are useful Group Creativity Techniques to help the project team to generate requirements and solutions to problems. These two allow equal opportunities for participants of all members of the group by avoiding domination.

Mock Exam Question

  1. David, the project manager, is working on a session collecting requirements from stakeholders for the project. At this stage, he aims to collect as many ideas from the stakeholders as possible within the session without imposing any judgement on the ideas proposed by the participants. What Group Creativity Technique would he employ?
    1. Nominal Group Technique
    2. Delphi technique
    3. Brainstorming
    4. Affinity diagram
    Solution: C
    As the project manager would like to get “as many ideas as possible without judgement”, the most appropriate Group Creativity Technique is “Brainstorming” (Nominal Group Technique is not the best answer as the technique involves prioritizing the ideas generated (i.e. judgement).

Summary: Nominal Group Technique vs Brainstorming

According to the above definition, it can be said that the Nominal Group Technique is brainstorming with prioritization:

  • Nominal Group Technique: brainstorming + group ranking / prioritization
  • Brainstorming: generating as many ideas as possible in a safe environment without any judgement from others

Note: other PMP Group Creativity Techniques mentioned in the PMBOK® Guide include:

  • Delphi technique
  • Mind mapping
  • Affinity diagram
  • Multi-criteria Decision Analysis

Hope this article can illustrate the differences between Nominal Group Technique vs Brainstorming well.

recommended PMP resourcesAdditional FREE PMP resources: 47+ Commonly Confused Term Pairs with detailed explanations. If you found this article useful, you may wish to reference other Commonly Confused Term articles.

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Edward Chung

Edward Chung aspires to become a full-stack web developer and project manager. In the quest to become a more competent professional, Edward studied for and passed the PMP Certification, ITIL v3 Foundation Certification, PMI-ACP Certification and Zend PHP Certification. Edward shares his certification experience and resources here in the hope of helping others who are pursuing these certification exams to achieve exam success.

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