PMI - Plus / Minus / Interesting

By Martin Gilliard

PMI is a lateral and creativity thinking technique developed by Edward De Bono that is a development of the pro’s and con’s technique that has been used for centuries.

It is designed to deliberately direct your attention to the positive, negative and interesting aspects of a particular idea, subject or decision.

A cartoon drawn idea bulb plugged into a wall socket

(Image Credit orkboi)

To complete you make three columns… “Plus”, “Minus” and “Interesting.”

Under the plus column you list all of the positive aspects of the idea, subject, topic or decision.

Under the minus column the negative aspects and under the interesting column anything else that you think is worth noting but does not fit easily into the other two columns - items that are neither good or bad but more neutral observations or points of interest / comments.

It is a great tool for focussing your attention and thinking on different elements of the thing you are analysing.

After you have used this technique you should be in a better position to make a decision about the matter in question.

It is particularly useful if you have already made your mind up as it helps you to double check your judgement.


I am considering relocating my family from Canada back home to the UK.

The table used to assist the decision making process is given below:

Family in UK (+9)Have to sell house (-6)A web based career would mean I could swap between the 2 countries(+3)
Easier to see UK friends (+6)More crime (-2)
Parents will babysit for free (+3)Less space (-2)

This isn't an exhaustive example - I'm sure I could add many more pros and cons for each. Hopefully it is enough though to give you a picture of how the technique can be used.

Personal Development

PMI is a good tool to use for your personal self development.

Throughout life we all get to get to those major turning points or forks in the road where you have to choose one path or the other. Think of new jobs, schools, courses, projects, moving home, big purchase items, starting a new business, etc.

What are the positive, negative or interesting aspects from that the change in career, new course, purchase, project or business opportunity?

Undertaking this analysis might change your action plans.

Interesting Aspects Of An Idea

Interesting aspects of an idea can move you to another idea completely. A good example of this occurred in 1944 when a group of MIT scientists at the radiation laboratory were working on a radar that could detect a tower six miles away.

The scientists found that when the humidity increased the radar failed. Noting the interesting fact about the radar being in tune to the natural frequency of water vapour they decided to look for other useful applications. Their work ultimately led them to the creation of the first microwave oven. 

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