A general method for narrowing down a list of options
Making a decision by listing positive arguments for and negative arguments against the idea
Level of Difficulty to Facilitate (to be deleted during review): No specific skills required
Generate a comprehensive collection of Pros and Cons, by working through the options one by one and generate a realistic set of pros and cons for each (using creativity approaches if it helps). Write each pro or con on a separate card or Post-it, clearly marked "+" (for a pro or positive) and "-" (for a con or negative).
Collate the collection into an ordered checklist of criteria, with pros and cons stacked separately, any duplicates removed and a single master checklist of all pros and all cons prepared. If time is short an assistant could carry out the first iteration. Focus on the central issue you are working on and order the lists Vital ("make or break"), Important (but not absolutely vital), Marginal (i.e. "would be nice if"). These categories can be sub divided further is necessary.
Pick out ?
"Vital" Options, by making a short-list of potentially viable options. If unsure about an item, do not exclude it, yet.
From the "Vital" short-list, pick out "Important" options, counting the number of "important" pro criteria that are present, and con criteria that are absent. Eliminate all options that score poorly at this stage, to leave a list of feasible, good quality options.
Repeat with the "Marginal" criteria, condensing the short-list yet further to only options that are feasible, of good quality, and which have useful additional properties.
This technique is used mainly for screening out clearly weaker options using vital/important/marginal distinction. It does not make finer distinctions within a final short-list. Another technique should be sought to take the short-lists any further.
Usual or Expected Outcomes: To see all advantages and disadvantages of an idea and come to a decision.
Originally "advantages and disadvantages", from Doyle, Michael and Straus, David: How to Make Meetings Work, Berkley Books, 1976, 1993