Itemised response and PMI

From WikID

What Is Itemised Response?

The Itemised Response method is used to judge ideas quickly and intuitively. For each idea, the positive and negative features are listed. These positive and negative features can serve to elaborate on the positive aspects (make the idea’s positive aspects stronger). Also, the negative aspects can be evaluated and improved.

This method is used to evaluate and work out a moderately large selection of ideas. Once all pluses and minuses are listed, a decision can be made as to which ideas will be used further throughout the design project. The Itemised Response method originated from the Synectics method, a systematic approach to creative thinking that uses metaphors and analogies.

What Is PMI?

The PMI Method (Plus, Minus, Interesting) is used to evaluate early design ideas in a quick and systematic way. PMI is essentially a tool that helps to bring structure to a set of early ideas. Per idea the pluses, minuses and interesting aspects are listed:

  1. Plus (+) – positive aspects,
  2. Minus (-) – negative aspects, and
  3. Interesting (I) – interesting aspects and features.
    • PMI can be used in combination with itemised response.

When Can You Use Itemised Response and PMI?

The Itemised Response method can be used to select ideas for concept developments. The method works best when a manageable number of ideas need to be screened. The PMI method is essentially a technique used in a brainstorm setting. Because of its quick and intuitive nature, the PMI method is best applied in the beginning of the design process, during early idea generation.

How to Use Itemised Response and PMI?


Starting Point

A limited number of ideas, resulting from the stage of idea generation (not more than 10).

Expected Outcome

Evaluation of ideas and a decision as to which ideas could go into concept development.

Better understanding of the solution space, i.e. more insight into valuable directions for solution finding.

Better understanding of interesting and promising ideas, but also of bad ideas.

Possible Procedure

  1. For each idea, list the positive features and the negative features in the form of a list with pluses and minuses. Per idea, answer the following questions:
    1. What is good about the idea (Plus)?
    2. Which aspects would you need to improve (Minus)?
    3. What makes the idea interesting (Interesting)?
  2. You now have per idea:
    1. Plus: these are the good aspects of the idea, worth developing further (into concepts) or taking advantage of.
    2. Minus: these are bad aspects of the idea, not worth developing further.
    3. Interesting: these are interesting aspects of the idea, but they need more development in order to become good ideas.
  3. Decide upon your course of action: do you develop the good ideas into concepts (how many concepts? Maybe combine certain good ideas?), or do you continue with the early idea generation (seek more ideas? Combine interesting ideas with the good ideas? Explore within the group of interesting ideas?).

Tips and Concerns

  • Working with Pluses and Minuses invites people to take decisions, but you don’t want that too quickly. C-Box, Itemised Response, PMI and vALUe are all meant to get acquainted with all the ideas before throwing any away.

References and Further Reading

  • Gordon, W.J.J. (1961) Synectics, New York: Harper and Row.
  • De Bono, E. (1970) Lateral Thinking, Creativity Step by Step, New York: Harper and Row Publishers.
  • Tassoul, M. (2006) Creative Facilitation: a Delft Approach, Delft: VSSD.


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