First select someone to be a recorder and someone to be a timekeeper. For one minute, the group generates as many pluses (positives, good points, advantages, pros, etc.) as possible. The idea here is to generate lots of ideas. Everyone is required to defer judgment without comments or questions. After one minute, the group goes on to generating the minuses (negatives, bad points, disadvantages, cons) of the idea for an additional minute.
During the third minute, the group records as many related questions they can generate around the idea. Sentence stems are helpful for this step of the process: “How could . . .?”, “How would . . .?”, “What would happen if. . .?”, “How might . . .?”, or “Wouldn’t it be funny if . . .?”, etc.
The final collaborative step is for the group to rank ideas in Pluses and Minuses categories from the perspective of the most valued or most interesting from each participant’s point of view. This can be done collaboratively by giving each students 3 colored dots to “spend” in each category. Students may place their 3 dots on their favorite idea or ideas. The ideas are then ranked from those receiving the highest “votes” to the ones receiving the lowest. After this stage is completed there is a new opportunity to discuss the results.
It should be noted that the primary intent of this tool is not to change student’s minds; rather, it is designed to unbiasly and unemotionally explore ideas in-depth. The exploration may result in a change of position on an idea or a change in viewpoint or perspective. This tool is a very powerful tool for teaching students the power of collaboration and teamwork skills.
The PMQ is also useful for exploring any topic, group decision, etc. that has happened historically. The process helps students keep their minds open to new understandings and new possibilities.
What is really interesting about this process is that a Pluses, Minuses and Question (PMQ) tool can be completed on every single idea generated during the initial process!