September 2017

Three Simple Decision-Making Tools

By | 2017-09-18T23:05:44+00:00 12 September 2017|Categories: SandBlog, solve|Tags: , , , , , |

We make decisions all the time. Big ones, small ones, easy and challenging. Making the right choice can be obvious, and sometimes it requires time invested in thought. Luckily we have simple tools to help.

(1) Pro & Con

First, the basic Pro and Con list. A list of the good and bad aspects of a particular choice.

If listing alone doesn’t help you make the decision, consider a Pro and Con list with scores.

(2) Scored Pro & Con

You can add a numerical weight of importance to your pro/con list. For example, a pro with a weight of 5 is more important than a pro (or con) of 1.

Scoring your list changes it from ‘which side has more thoughts’ to ‘which side is more critical.’ Add up your scores and see which side comes out stronger.

(3) PMI Method

A third way to examine choices is the PMI Method, invented by Edward de Bono. PMI is an acronym for Plus, Minus, Interesting. It takes the Scored Pro & Con a step further by forcing us to think about “what is interesting” about the choice.

  • Plus are the pros. What’s good about the idea.
  • Minus are the cons, the bad points of the idea. And finally,
  • Interesting. What is interesting? What are the possibilities?

This chart is especially handy when brainstorming and you have ideas that are not a pro or a con. Rather, ideas interesting to think about. To calculate your PMI score add up your (Plus) + (Minus) + (Interesting) scores. Items in the “interesting” column can score as a plus or a minus depending on the implication of the thought.

In the example above, the plus score added up to +13, the minus -12, and the interesting column was +3. Added together this idea scores a +4.

While it is easy to think-up why we like or don’t like something, we don’t usually think about it from the perspective of what is interesting about the idea. Using PMI encourages exploration of possibilities that arise from thinking about it from three directions. It enlarges our view of the situation.

May 2015

Taking Action: 8 Ways to Classify Ideas

By | 2017-08-19T18:41:00+00:00 13 May 2015|Categories: SandBlog, solve, think|Tags: , , |

A fair amount of writing about brainstorming emphasizes not judging ideas too soon. A plethora of criticism about brainstorming argues it isn’t critical enough. No matter how you think-up ideas, eventually they must prove themselves worthy of helping you meet your objectives.

An excellent way to evaluate your ideas is by categorizing them into what Edward de Bono in his book Serious Creativity: Using the Power of Lateral Thinking to Create New Ideas calls “End Categories.”

Classifying the idea into one of the following eight categories:

  1. Directly Usable,
  2. Good Ideas, But Not for Us,
  3. Good Ideas, But Not for Now,
  4. Needs More Work,
  5. Powerful, but Not Usable,
  6. Interesting, but Not Usable,
  7. Weak Value, or
  8. Unworkable.

Understanding and applying these categories will help you to focus, prioritize, take action, or reject ideas. The last portion of your brainstorming agenda should be dedicated to classifying ideas in these categories.

1. Directly Usable

These are your best ideas. You’ve determined they have value and could be used. These babies are worth exploring deeper and finding resources to support.

2. Good Ideas, But Not For Us

These have value and support your objective, but are not a good fit. Maybe you lack skills or resources, but most often your brand filters eliminate these ideas. In a future round of thinking, you could explore these and ask, “How could these be modified to be a good fit?” But more than likely, these ideas should be discarded.

3. Good Ideas, But Not for Now (Backburner)

These have value and are a good fit – but are not right at this time. Current resources, capacity, or priorities may not allow you to act on these. Put them on the back burner. Revisit them in a month or a quarter.

4. Needs More Work

Ideas with potential, but are half-baked. With more work, you can transform these into Directly Usable ideas. Get some folks working on these.

5. Powerful, But Not Usable

These are usually great ideas blocked by some external force. Factors you can’t control that de Bono calls “regulations, environmental concerns, very high-risk factors, cannibalizing existing products and so on.” As if there is a way to re-work these in a way that eliminates the block.

6. Interesting, But Unusable

These are some of the most productive ideas. Not because they become usable, but because they spark other usable ideas. They often offer new ways of thinking of things. These are the ideas that start as “Hmm…?” and spark “A-ha!”

7. Weak Value

These ideas work, and they fit your organization, but they lack value. The return on the effort invested in these may be disappointing. The danger with Weak Value ideas is that sometimes we accept and implement these just to “have something out there.” They support a “something is better than nothing” approach. Don’t fall into this trap. There may be ways to rework these ideas so that way they work, are a fit, and become high contributors.

8. Unworkable

These are fundamentally impossible. Not even if you worked hard on them. They’re duds—and should be rejected. Period.

Putting This To Use…

Turn these ideas into action by assigning Action Steps to individual owners for each idea. This makes one person accountable for an idea.

  • Begin exploring the Directly Usable ideas.
  • Take a final look at the Good Idea, Not For Now before putting those into short-term storage.
  • Get folks cracking on Needs More Work ideas.
  • Tinker with your Interesting, But Unusable to see what other ideas they could spark.
  • And make everyone promise not to monkey with the Weak Value or Unworkable ideas.