This Delphi Technique was developed by the RAND Corporation for the U.S. Department of Defense back in the 1950s. It was originally intended for use as a psychological weapon during the cold war. However, it was soon recognized that the steps of Delphi could be very valuable in manipulating ANY meeting toward a pre-determined end.
How does the process take place? The techniques are well developed and well defined. First, the person who will be leading the meeting, the facilitator or Change Agent must be a likeable person with whom those participating in the meeting can agree or sympathize with. It is, therefore, the job of the facilitator to find a way to cause a split in the audience, to establish one or a few of the people as “bad guys” while the facilitator is perceived as the “good guy.” Facilitators are trained to recognize potential opponents and how to make such people appear aggressive, foolish, extremist, etc. Once this is done, the facilitator establishes himself or herself as the “friend” of the rest of the audience. The stage is now set for the rest of the agenda to take place.
At this point, the audience is generally broken up into “discussion groups” of seven or eight people each. Each of these groups is to be led by a subordinate facilitator. Within each group, discussion takes place of issues, already decided upon by the leadership of the meeting. Here, too, the facilitator manipulates the discussion in the desired direction, isolating and demeaning opposing viewpoints. Generally, participants are asked to write down their ideas and disagreements with the papers to be turned in and “compiled” for general discussion after the general meeting is re-convened.
THIS is the weak link in the chain which you are not supposed to recognize. WHO compiles the various notes into the final agenda for discussion? AHHHH! Well, it is those who are running the meeting. How do you know that the ideas on YOUR notes were included in the final result. You DON’T! You may realize that your idea was NOT included and come to the conclusion that you were probably in the minority. Recognize that every OTHER citizen member of this meeting has written his or her likes or dislikes on a similar sheet of paper and they, too, have no idea whether THEIR ideas were “compiled” into the final result! You don’t even know if ANYONE’S ideas are part of the final “conclusions” presented to the re-assembled group as the “consensus” of public opinion. Rarely, does anyone challenge the process since each concludes that he or she was in the minority and different from all the others. So, now, those who organized the meeting in the first place are able to tell the participants AND THE REST OF THE COMMUNITY that the conclusions, reached at the meeting, are the result of public participation. Actually, the desired conclusions had been established, in the back room, long before the meeting ever took place. There are variations in the technique to fit special situations but, in general, the procedure outlined above takes place.
Read it all and there is more here. Prior uses by Canterbury of this technique were noted in the Dublin Primates Meeting where Justin Welby acted as a Facilitator; the CofE Synod; the Shared Conversations on Sexual Immorality where Canterbury hopes that this Primates Meeting will clear the way for changes in CofE teaching in the General Synod according to David Porter