What is a pros and cons list: meaning, examples, maker

The decision-making is tough, mainly due to procrastination. In fact, 84% of adult people face a “putting off” problem. There are distinct subsections of science, such as Decision theory, Decision Analysis, and Statistical decision theory, that teach mankind how to decide accurately. According to these, the right decision is the one that maximizes the utility of expected or predicted actions’ outcomes. In simple terms, the right decision is when pros prevail over cons.

Pros and Cons – meaning

Both terms are used in relation to choices or problems to be addressed. The reality is, there are no unambiguously good or bad options. Whichever the resolving step is, it from the nature of the case has certain advantages and disadvantages. Hence, one of the easiest yet fecund resolution tools one can use, for either business or individual purposes, is a Pros & Cons table.

The process is straightforward. First, likely issue’s solutions are noted. These may be generated during brainstorming, strategic sessions, self-reflection, or others. Then, an individual solution is inspected from two sides – positive and negative consequences. The key is to use a table format and address every single benefit with presumable losses.

Consider Pros and Cons examples. Say, a company plans to enter a new geographical market. The following advantages & disadvantages can be mentioned hereabouts:

  • more sales and higher revenue vs. political instability, distribution, and currency risks
  • extra profits from economies of scale vs. the risk of a disproportionate increase in fixed costs
  • rising brand awareness vs. fierce competition from local manufacturers, etc.

The method gives a 360-degree panorama of consequences. Pros & Cons list serves well to prevent a one-sided consideration of the dilemma. It neither allows being too pessimistic and giving up growth and development opportunities. To come up with a maximum, one can combine the tool with other techniques, such as affinity diagrams, mind maps, cost & benefit analysis, decision trees, IDA, AHP, etc.

Build your Pros and Cons list with Weje

Here’s a nice example of how easy you can divide your strong and weak points on any question you like with Weje app.

Pros and Cons list template

In general, the instrument is a single table with arguments “For” and “Against”. If you want to add math and make the solution further apparent, you can perform the evaluation of significance and weight each bullet point with a mark, say, from 0 to 10. Treat this as an everyday handy tool. The assessment can be carried out even for personal decisions, such as marriage or moving to a new city/country.

“Use the following template to calculate the score for every Pros and Con”, source

If you use scoring for business purposes, it’s better to ask for marks from experts. Collect colleagues’ opinions – refer to professionals from different departments, such as Sales, Procurement, Legal, Finance, etc. Consult several peers for every question – ask them to independently score the degree of relevance and risk. You can create a sort of questionnaire, for example, via Google Forms. After records are in place, analyze averages and variances – for every statement. If all is completed accurately, you will promptly see which of the opportunities or threats are unambiguous and which are doubtful. To extend the analysis, use SWOT tables or other suitable instruments.

Pay attention to timing – in the matter with Pros & Cons, it’s better not to be too prolonged. The trick is to quickly write down everything that comes to mind first. After all, these are habitually the most mattering thoughts. Whether you are recording alone or in a group, try to keep it within 30 minutes.

Pros and Cons list maker

To create the list, you can utilize customary software, like MS Excel, Powerpoint, or Google Spreadsheets. You can even use the good old handwriting. However, a visualization often contributes to the solution for as much as the recorded essence.

There are a number of assisting programs on the Internet. For individual purposes, try online “Yes-n-No” decision tools, such as Decisioncount.

“To be or not to be – the issue has never been easier”, source

For corporate purposes, or if you work in a group, it’s better to use something more solid. Online collaboration programs usually have pre-designed Pros & Cons tables’ templates and built-in tools. Some of these have free subscription options, for example, for students and educators, like Weje.

“Utilize sharable workspaces to work over decisions and not only”, source

To start with the table, create an online whiteboard and share access between teammates. Choose handy widgets to design canvas for future Pros and Cons. Announce the subject and ask teammates to note their opinions. If you perform on your own – go ahead with it alone. Because of the named cursors and changes’ tracking, you can track history and see individual proposals. If some bulleted points require argumentation, attach important tables or documents to the board, so that other participants will see them. Or – drag and drop relevant evidence right from the Internet.

Don’t be misled by the apparent simplicity of the Pros and Cons method. In fact, the easier the tool is to use, the more often you use it, agree. For teamwork and, especially, for remote groups, it is better to use shared workspaces. Thus, everyone can equally and effortlessly participate in the solutions’ generation and final decision voting.

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