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Decision Making Made Easy (Two Choices) – Part 1

Making decisions is always hard for me. It’s one of my Achilles heels. Here is a good method for choosing when you have to decide between 2 choices. It’s called PMI, short for Plus, Minus, Interesting. It’s an improvement over the simple Pro/Con worksheet.

How to use PMI:

  1. Take a sheet of paper and draw three columns, labeling them Plus, Minus, and Interesting. You can get a free pdf form from MindTools.com. Example: Should I (A) eat dinner at home or should I (B) go out to a restaurant.
  2. In the Plus Column write down all the positives (the Pros) about one of your choices. Example: the choice (A) to eat at home.
  3. In the Minus Column write down all the negatives (the Cons) about one of your choices. Example: the choice (A) to eat at home.
  4. In the Interesting Column write down all the Interesting things that could result from
    this choice (A) whether positive, negative or uncertain.
  5. Assign points
    either negative or positive to each item in each column. You can be
    as arbitrary as you like, but a simple 1-10 scale or 1-100 scale should
    work.
  6. Add up each of the columns
  7. Total the three columns together.

If your score is positive this would indicate you should make this choice (A). If it is negative then you should choose choice (B).

PMI Table Example:

Should I (A) eat dinner at home or should I (B) go out to a restaurant.

PMI Table for Choice (A) eating at home:

    Plus Minus Interesting
    Healthier
    Food +10
    I have to cook -10 Might miss out on meeting new people -7
    I
    know what’s in the food +8
    I have to clean up -10 Might avoid bad service +2
    Can
    eat sooner. No drive time. +5
    Not seeing anything new -8 Might miss out getting ideas
    for my writing -10
    Quietier
    +2
    I have to wait on myself -2 Miss out on exercise walking
    to the restaurant -7
    Cheaper
    +3
    +28 -30 -22

We scores the table as 28 (Plus) – 30 (Minus) – 22 (Interesting) = – 24

So in this example we would choose choice (B) since the outcome was overall negative for choice (A).

PMI charts were formalized by Edward de Bono in 1992, in his book: Serious Creativity: Using the Power of Lateral Thinking to Create New Ideas, HarperBusiness, New York, US, 1992. Five Star rating on Amazon from 8 reviews.

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