I have mentioned Dr. Edward de Bono‘s lateral thinking tools many times here. These tools direct your attention to a particular aspect of thinking by asking you to do PMI (plus, minus, interesting), APC (alternatives, possibilities and choices), OPV (other people views) etc.
People often ask what is the big deal with these tools? Any good thinker can look into pros and cons and can identify alternatives without knowing about these tools. So why thinking tools?
It is true good thinkers can do all the good thinking without thinking tools. But good thinkers are rare and asking to do a particular kind of thinking all the time without a mnemonic is difficult if not impossible. And kids love thinking tools.
Thinking tools make it formal and simpler to ask anyone (or yourself) to do a particular kind of thinking. Asking everyone to do PMI in a meeting saves a lot of time. People will know that a good PMI includes equal emphasis on plus, minus as well as interesting aspects.
Without PMI we may favor ‘plus’ or ‘minus’ (whatever our past experience suggests).