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Evaluating Ideas: Pro - Con Sheet

A pro-con sheet is a simple way to identify the reasons for and against a particular idea. It is a good way to look at all the aspects of an option before you decide whether or not to go forward.

Imagine you are facilitating a discussion about the reasons for and against letting your high school students leave campus for lunch. Set up a chart with the "pros" on one side and the "cons" on the other. You can use a large white board or two flipchart sheets side by side as you collect ideas.

At the top of your idea sheet, state the question clearly. For example,

Key Points To Take Away

--- Use a pro-con sheet when looking at the reasons for and against a particular idea or action.
--- Remember to ask for guidance if you are not sure where a person wants to place their comment.
--- Use standard brainstorming rules and practices.


Should our students be allowed to leave campus during lunch period?

Use regular brainstorming [see Brainstorming Basics] to invite your group's opinions. Group members should offer comments both pro and con. If you are unsure if a comment stands in favor or against, just ask. Among the pro comments the group might generate is "helps them develop responsibility." A con comment might be "potential to disturb the neighborhood."

After all ideas are collected, check with the group to see if there are any comments that require clarification or further discussion. Check with the group to see what conclusion, if any, they draw from the list and if they are ready to make a decision or need to do more research.

An alternative to using regular brainstorming is to use hybrid brainstorming. In this process, anyone can throw out an idea. Then the group has to agree to include the idea before it goes on the list. The value of this approach is that the final list will represent the thinking of the whole; the downside is that it might inhibit the free flow of ideas if people are concerned that their ideas will be rejected.

NEXT WEEK IN GREAT MEETINGS: Introducing the "nominal group technique," a decision-making tool for groups that might have dominant members or members who might not speak up.


About Great Meetings

Pam Plumb and Dee Kelsey are your facilitators in charge of Education World's Great Meetings series. They are also authors of the popular guide to meeting facilitation, Great Meetings! Great Results. Together, Pam and Dee have more than 40 years' experience facilitating change and training meeting leaders.

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