Pros and Cons List

What is a Pros and Cons List?

A pros and cons list is a quick and easy decision-making tool. Pros are arguments FOR taking a particular path. Cons are arguments AGAINST. Once you develop a list detailing both sides of the argument you can make more sensible, informed decisions. To make the technique more objective, especially for complex decisions, you can rate each argument against one or more factors to create a weighted list.

Why use a Pros and Cons List?

Creating a pros and cons list is a simple and effective way to reduce uncertainty when there is more than one viable way to proceed. By listing the advantages (benefits) and disadvantages of each choice, the decision-making process becomes less subjective or influenced by emotions and personal biases. Weighting each argument against relevant criteria provides further evidence to support a particular choice.

In a group scenario, the process makes everyone aware of the potential consequences of a course of action, helps opposing sides recognize and consider the opinions of others, and can provide a new perspective. The process can also highlight knowledge gaps where further research is required. When all the facts are laid out, the group can move forward more confidently.

Who should use a Pros and Cons List?

Because of its simplicity, a pros and cons list is suitable for any situation where there are two or more options available, and there is a need to understand the implications of each. The decision might be as simple as whether to do something or not, or it might be a choice between different pathways. The technique is every bit as applicable at the strategic level as it is at the personal level.

Related templates
Tips for facilitating an effective Pros and Cons List

Pros and Cons List Template

Pros

Positive aspects and outcomes of a decision or course of action.

Questions to ask:

  • What are the benefits, reasons, and wins for taking the action?
  • What positive outcomes do we expect?
  • How will this contribute to our success?

Cons

Negative aspects and outcomes of a decision or course of action.

Questions to ask:

  • What are the costs, reasons, and risks associated with this action?
  • What negative outcomes and challenges do we expect?
  • How would this impede or impact on our success?

How to create a Pros and Cons List

A pros and cons list is one of the simplest decision-making tools. As such, it requires no specialized equipment or skills to create. For more strategic and complex decision-making it is useful to gather ideas from a representative group of stakeholders with a range of perspectives on the subject. Populating a pros and cons list template offers a way to structure people’s contributions.

When comparing two or more decisions, complete a pros and cons template for each option and compare the outcomes. Most pros and cons list meetings will take less than 30 minutes.

Tip If team members are distributed across different locations, it may be challenging and inconvenient to get everyone involved at the same time. To meet this challenge use video conferencing, web-based applications such as Google Docs, and specialized online collaboration tools such as GroupMap rather than traditional brainstorming tools such as whiteboards, post it notes, and poster paper.

Brainstorm

Create a list of pros and cons for each option under consideration.

Group

Discuss and group any common themes.

Rate

Rate each idea based on your chosen criteria.

Share

Share the outcomes of the session with relevant stakeholders.

Cross Device Compatibility

Save effort, time and money with GroupMap

Whether you have your best minds together in the same room, or distributed around the world, GroupMap’s unique technology allows groups of up to 2000 to submit ideas independently at separate times, from different places, in different timezones. Prevent dominant personalities swaying the group, drowning out the opinions of others – GroupMap allows everyone to brainstorm independently then effortlessly combines that information to reveal the full spectrum of ideas. GroupMap templates keep the objective front and center throughout the session, keeping everyone on task. This ensures the activity identifies actionable issues rather than becoming just a discussion on ideas. GroupMap gives you all the group decision making tools you need to prioritize, decide and take action.

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