What will I have for dinner today? Where will I travel next summer?
People face decisions numerous times on a daily basis. Sometimes, they are so simple that they don’t require much thought. However, some decisions are not as simple as others and call for a more conscious analysis.
Before making a big decision at work, for example, that will have a consequential effect on your business, you should first, thoroughly analyze both positive and negative outcomes.
One way to do that is by making Benjamin Franklin’s famous Pros and Cons list that aims to visualize both the advantages and disadvantages of any decision beforehand. Now in the form of a workshop, the Pros and Cons activity will give your team a more rounded view during a decision-making process and help you assess all aspects to make the right choice.
The following is a workshop recipe for your team to cook the best outcome.
Recipe Instructions 📄
1. Assemble your team
Two heads are better than one. Especially when analyzing our choices, we tend to be more biased and emotional. Listening to other people’s opinions on a particular subject can sometimes widen our train of thought and open our eyes to possibilities we couldn’t see before.
For a better analysis, gather all people concerned and that are knowledgeable enough about the project at hand. Having opposing opinions is a great way to have a wider outlook on both aspects of the Pros and Cons list.
Moreover, by running a group discussion, you raise awareness on the impact of the decision being made.
2. What’s good? What’s not?
After assembling the whole team, the facilitator introduces the topic and clearly describes the idea that should be decided on. To guide the participants and start the reflection process, he or she can use questions such as “what do you think are the positive outcomes of this following decision…?” Or, “what are the unforeseen consequences?”
The participants, then write down arguments addressing each of the questions on the designated column.
3. Group similar arguments
It is interesting to look at all the similar and differing opinions, once all participants are done sharing their arguments. The next step involves grouping repetitive inputs that convey the same thought. When combining ideas, it allows the team to clearly see how many different arguments are in each column. Having a much longer list of disadvantages, for example, can be an indicator that it is best not to go with that decision.
4. Weigh the Pros and Cons
In some cases, when certain arguments are heavier than others, the length of the list is not the best indicator. For instance, if a decision will decrease the company’s profits by 15%, this disadvantage is more impactful than the benefit of having to work fewer hours. Following a team discussion, members can start weighing the different arguments against each other. This step can be done through voting based on the criteria of importance or relevance, for participants to decide on which arguments to put forward. Upon completing this step, the different outcomes of each choice become a little more defined. This will hopefully, guide teams to make the right decision that is best fit for their goals.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Pros and Cons workshop?
The Pros and Cons workshop is a decisions making tool. It involves listing the advantages and disadvantages of an idea on each side. This activity helps us widen our perspective, and analyze all possibilities before taking a decision lacking information and based on emotions.
Where does the Pros and Cons list originate from?
This concept originated centuries ago by Benjamin Franklin. The founding father of the United States of America also found an approach to a better decision-making process.
When is the Pros and Cons used?
One can apply the pros and cons concept, whenever he or she is facing a difficult choice. Within a company, teams can organize the pros and cons workshop together, before taking an influential decision. A wider perception scope can help us see all possibilities beforehand, thereby avoid big losses.