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PMI, or Plus, Minus and Interesting, charts help you assess your options before you make decisions. The process forces you to evaluate the pros and cons of a specific decision in a balanced and impartial way. You give scores to positives, negatives and influencing factors and, at the end of the process, your final score tells you whether the decision is a good idea or not.
Use a piece of paper for an individual or family decision or a large marker board in a meeting room for a business team decision. At the top, write the idea, action, solution or change as the decision topic. Draw three columns below the topic and label the columns Plus, Minus and Interesting. Here's an example: TOPIC Plus | Minus | Interesting
Have every participant in the decision-making process list the positive and negative aspects of the topic, and write them in the appropriate column. Put anything that is not an obvious plus or minus in the Interesting column. Do not discuss items at this point. Just list them.
Review the items listed in the Plus and Minus columns and assign a numerical value to each on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 is the lowest score and 5 the highest). Mark scores in the Plus colum with a "+" and scores in the Minus column with a "-". For example, an item with a high benefit would score as a "+5" and one with a high negative would score as a "-5."
Look at the Interesting column to see if any item should be marked as a positive or negative value using the same scale. If no one feels that an item has a potential effect on the decision, give it a zero value. For example, in listing interesting items about a city where you are thinking of moving the family, you write “college town.” If someone in the family plans to take college courses in the next few years, that item may have a high positive. But, if the move is related to job availability to increase family income, having to compete with students for part-time jobs may make this a negative.
Total the items in each column, then add together the three totals. A negative total indicates that you should abandon the idea, action, solution or change. A positive total indicates that the decision is the a good one.
Shirley Lee has been writing on business and computer topics since 1987. Her articles have appeared in “Leadership Excellence,” “Office Pro,” and “Sales and Service Excellence” magazines and the “Journal for Quality and Participation.” She has a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Dallas Baptist University.