Thinking tools/frameworks improve thinking skill much more than discussion does. One reason is that in discussion it's very difficult to pay attention to the thinking process rather than the content (because the content is interesting). Also, 'Understanding of the tools will never lead to their use. Use can only come from habit and habit can only come from practice.' (This is all according to de Bono in a post on this site
Below is such a summary leaving out many important points.
PMI (Plus, Minus, Interesting)
'Do a PMI on this idea' means:
1. First, try to think of everything that is good about the idea.
2. Then, try to think of everything that is bad about the idea.
3. Finally, try to think of everything that is interesting about the idea. 'Interesting' means: what is neither good nor bad but worth noticing.
Use exactly 2 minutes of thinking time on each step.
CAF (Consider All Factors)
'Do a CAF on this situation' means that you should try to think of all the factors in the situation. (A 'factor' is 'something that affects a result'.) Use exactly 3 minutes of thinking time. In my own words: 'What affects this?' 'What affects the result of this?' 'What does this depend on?'
C&S (Consequence & Sequel)
'Do a C&S on this (event)' means:
a) Estimate when the immediate consequences of this (event) take place.
b) Estimate when the short-term consequences of this (event) take place.
c) Estimate when the medium-term consequences of this (event) take place.
d) Estimate when the long-term consequences of this (event) take place.
2. Use exactly 2 minutes of thinking time on each step below:
a) First, try to think of all the immediate consequences.
b) Second, try to think of all the short-term consequences.
c) Third, try to think of all the medium-term consequences.
d) Finally, try to think of all the long-term consequences.
In my own words: 'What happens if...?' 'What if...? 'What will happen then (i.e., in this time perspective) (if...)?'
AGO (Aims, Goals, Objectives)
'Do an AGO on this situation' means that you should try to list all the aims, goals and objectives in the situation. Thinking time allowed is exactly 3 minutes. In other words: 'What are we trying to do? (de Bono) 'What should happen through our actions?' (me)
FIP (First Important Priorities)
'Do an FIP on this situation' means that you should try to think of all the priorities in the situation. Thinking time allowed is exactly 3 minutes.
APC (Alternatives, Possibilities, Choices)
'Do an APC on this situation' means that you should try to think of all the alternatives, possibilities and choices in the situation. Use exactly 3 minutes of thinking time.
OPV (Other People’s Views)
'Do an OPV on this situation' means that you should try to answer this:
1. Who is affected by the action taken in this situation? Or: Who is affected by the circumstances in this situation?
2. What are their views? What is their thinking?
Thinking time allowed is exactly 3 minutes.
Why use these abbreviations such as PMI, CAF and C&S? One reason is that the thinking operations that they represent get more attention thanks to the unusual abbreviations. It is obvious that it is a good thing to look for advantages and disadvantages, but experiments show that we do not do it often enough and well enough. If you make the thinking operations unobvious, by giving them these unusual abbreviations, they get more attention. You pay more attention to unobvious things than to obvious things. In addition, the abbreviations, which are names for the various thinking operations, get a place in the brain in a much better way than does the description 'to first look for the advantages, then look for the disadvantages and finally look for the interesting aspects of the idea.' All this can more simply be said by the word PMI or by 'doing a PMI.'
Why use a strict time discipline (e.g. 3 min)? This is because you concentrate better on the task and waste less time by thinking about other things.
When you're practising the thinking tools you can use the timings below. But when you're using the thinking tools for other purposes than practice you can use other timings. When you're practising, instead of the given timings you can use any other precise, short and predetermined amount of time.
CoRT Thinking tools practice items
Six Thinking Hats practice items
Lateral thinking practice items
(Main source: CoRT (Cognitive Research Trust) Thinking Lessons CD (2000), Cavendish Information Products Ltd, 10 Cavendish Road, Oxford OX2 7TW, United Kingdom)