brainroads-toward-tomorrows mental patterns


pyramid to dna



by Edward de Bono (includes links to many of his books)

From Opportunities

The PMI → A simple device for ensuring that the initial positive or negative reaction to a proposal does not preclude consideration of the other aspects.

Doing a PMI involves listing the Plus points, the Minus points and the Interesting points of the presented idea.

The main use of the device is to protect against instant dismissal of an idea when the first impression is unfavourable.




The PMI is so simple a device that every adult claims to do it instinctively but experiment after experiment shows that when a group of executives are forced to do a PMI their ultimate decision is different.

The truth is that people may tend to do a sort of PMI (pros and cons, etc.) when they are in doubt.

But they do not do this when it is clear that they like or dislike the idea.

And this is precisely where the PMI is most necessary.

In practice the PMI means that if a person does not like an idea he is nevertheless forced to spend some time looking for the plus points and the interesting points.

It also means that if a person does like an idea he is forced to make himself aware of the negative points.

An idea emerges and someone indicates why he does not like it.

Someone else in the group asks each group member to take the idea and do a PMI on it.

An individual working on his own can force himself to do a PMI on an idea whenever he finds that his instinctive reaction is so strongly positive or negative that the opposite point of view is likely to be neglected

It is surprising how a simplistic device like the PMI can be effective.

It works by formalizing and making objective a process that is usually emotional.

Anyone who prides himself on his thinking will make an effort to do an efficient PMI, whereas previously he ‘would pride himself’ on supporting his instant judgement.




From de Bono's Thinking Course

Some people ask me whether it is in order to go through the points as they arise and then to judge each one and dump it in a category box called “Plus” or a box called “Minus” or another one called “Interesting”.

This is quite wrong and defeats the whole purpose of the PMI.

To judge the points as they arise is a judgment exercise.

To look in one direction after another is a scanning exercise.


See attention


It is even conceivable that the chemistry of the brain is slightly different when we set out to look in a “Plus” or positive direction from what it might be when we look in the “Minus” or negative direction.

Because it illustrates scanning so well, the PMI is almost a miniature thinking course just by itself.





The I or Interesting element of the PMI has several functions.

It can collect all those points and comments which are neither positive nor negative.

(It might be noted that if a particular point is seen both in the P and also in the M direction it is quite in order to include it under both headings.)

The I also encourages the deliberate habit of exploring a matter outside of the judgment framework to see what is interesting about the idea or what it leads to.

A simple phrase which is useful for carrying through this I scan is:

“It would be interesting to see if…”

The thinker is thereby encouraged to expand the idea rather than just to treat it as static.

Another aspect of the I direction is to see if the idea leads to another idea.

This notion of the “movement value” of an idea will be explored much more fully in the lateral thinking section of this book.

Finally the I trains the mind to react to the interest inherent in an idea and not just to judgment feelings about the idea.

A thinker should be able to say:

“I do not like your idea but there are these “interesting aspects to it….”

It is a common enough experience that this sort of reaction is highly unusual.




Two Steps

So instead of just reacting to the situation and then justifying the reaction, the thinker now goes through a two-step process.

The first step is deliberately to carry out the PMI operation.

The second step is to observe and react to what has been turned up by the PMI scan.

It is not unlike preparing a map and then reacting to what is on the map.




“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic”. — Peter Drucker

The shift from manual workers who do as they are being told — either by the task or by the boss — to knowledge workers who have to manage themselves ↓ profoundly challenges social structure

Managing Oneself (PDF) is a REVOLUTION in human affairs.” … “It also requires an almost 180-degree change in the knowledge workers’ thoughts and actions from what most of us—even of the younger generation—still take for granted as the way to think and the way to act.” …

… “Managing Oneself is based on the very opposite realities: Workers are likely to outlive organizations (and therefore, employers can’t be depended on for designing your life), and the knowledge worker has mobility.” ← in a context




These pages are attention directing tools for navigating a world continuing to move toward unimagined futures.



What’s the next effective action on the road ahead


It’s up to you to figure out what to harvest and calendarize
working something out in time (1915, 1940, 1970 … 2040 … the outer limit of your concern)nobody is going to do it for you.

It may be a step forward to actively reject something (rather than just passively ignoring) and then working out a plan for coping with what you’ve rejected.

Your future is between your ears and our future is between our collective ears — it can’t be otherwise. A site exploration starting pointThe memo THEY don't want you to see



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