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PMI: plus/minus/interesting

PMI stands for ‘plus/minus/interesting.' It is a development (by Edward de Bono) of the ‘pros and cons’ technique used for centuries.

One simply draws up a table headed ‘Plus,’ ‘Minus,’ and ‘Interesting.’ In the column underneath the ‘Plus’ heading one writes down all the positive points of taking the action. Underneath the ‘Minus’ heading one writes down all the negative effects. In the ‘Interesting’ column one writes down the extended implications of taking the action, whether positive or negative.

Castle technique

The castle technique is useful for evaluating a large number of ideas and is made up of four steps:

  • 1 A time-limit for the exercise should be set - say, 1 hour.
  • 2 Three criteria are used to evaluate each idea: acceptability (the extent to which it leads to a satisfactory solution), practicality (the extent to which it satisfies financial and time constraints), and originality (the extent to which it makes a significant improvement on the status quo).
  • 3 Each participant in the evaluation exercise has the same number of votes as there are ideas. Participants are instructed to vote for each idea with either a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ vote. One vote per idea per individual is allowed.
  • 4 The two ideas which receive the highest number of positive votes (number of ‘yes’ votes minus number of ‘no’ votes) are then combined into one idea.

Force-field analysis

This is a method used to get a whole view of all the forces for or against an idea. In effect this is a specialised method of weighing pros and cons. Force-field analysis allows you to look at all the forces for or against the plan. It helps you to plan or reduce the impact of the opposing forces, and strengthen and reinforce the supporting forces. To carry out a force-field analysis, take the following steps:

  • • List all forces for change in one column, and all forces against change in another column.
  • • Assign a score to each force, from 1 (weak) to 5 (strong).
  • • Draw a diagram showing the forces for and against, and the size of the forces (see Figure 8.2).











Figure 8.2 Force-field analysis





Once you have carried out an analysis, you can assess the viability of the idea. Here you have two choices:

  • • to reduce the strength of the forces opposing a project
  • • to increase the forces pushing a project

Often the most elegant solution is the first: just trying to force change through may cause its own problems (e.g. staff can be annoyed into active opposition to a plan instead of merely not welcoming it).

If you were faced with the task of pushing through the project in the example above, the analysis might suggest a number of points:

  • • By looking for a strategic alliance, loss of management control could be reduced (reduce the loss of management control by 2)
  • • Coping with uncertainty is necessary for business survival (new force in favour, +2)
  • • More work will mean a more productive workforce (new force, +1)
  • • More sales will increase the morale of sales force (new force, +1)
  • • More profit will increase the satisfaction of shareholders (new force, +1)

These changes swing the balance from 9:9 (neither for nor against the plan) to 14:7 (in favour of the plan).

Force-field analysis is an effective method of getting a picture of all the forces for and against a plan. It helps you to weigh the importance of these factors and to assess whether a plan is worth pursuing. Where you have decided to proceed with a plan, carrying out a force-field analysis helps you identify changes that might be made to improve the plan.

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