Larson's 55 Questions
to Free the Gears of Your Mind
for High-Level Thinking

Source: Neil Larson, developer of MaxThink (TM)

Ways to expand information

1. PMI - List the plus, minus, and interesting factors to avoid premature acceptance or rejection of information.
2.   MISSING - List what's missing from your information in order to focus on the completeness of your data.
3.   LIMITS - List the limits of your information or task to better define the boundaries for acquiring information.
4.  RULES - List both the written or unwritten process or guidelines that you are expected to follow.
5.   CONSEQUENCE - Separate the possible consequences of your information in categories of immediate, short, medium, and long term benefits and costs.
6.  OTHERS - List the viewpoints of other participants to identify the different motivations, needs, interests, or goals.

Ways to organize information

7.   AIMS - List your needs and wants to clarify your overall direction or purpose.
8.   GOALS - List what happens if your goal is reached in terms of measurable events that can be verified by independent observers.
9.   OBJECTIVES - List what must occur to achieve stated goals in order to identify ways to measure progress toward predetermined goals.
10.  PLANNING - List all possible approaches before selecting any to identify applicable thinking and organizing methods.
11. APC - List your alternatives, possibilities, and choices in order to expand the number of available options beyond the obvious approaches.
12.  PRIORITIES - Organize your information by importance to examine and clarify your methods of evaluation and selection.
13.  DECISION - List the reasons for your decision to identify the processes you use to make decisions.

Ways to process information

14. RECOGNIZE - List all familiar and unfamiliar factors to simplify your task of understanding new information.
15. ANALYZE - Separate your information into component parts to better understand the purposes and uses of each part.
16. COMPARE - List what is similar and different to focus understanding on the boundaries of your information.
17. OTHER WAY - List other possible ways of viewing your information to help shift your perception away from current perspectives.
18. SELECT - List your requirements by priority to focus attention on comparing your needs with any proposed solution.

Ways to manage information

19. START - List all possible ways to start in order to identify your choices for beginning a task.
20. ORGANIZE - List all possible ways to organize in order to focus your efforts on developing a plan before proceeding.
21. FOCUS - List your current thinking to insure current actions are relevant to your overall goals.
22. CONSOLIDATE - List what you've achieved so far to see if your plans are still valid or need changes.
23. CONCLUDE - List what you did and did not conclude to establish your current viewpoint on the relationships of your information.

Ways to examine information from others

24. EXAMINE BOTH SIDES - List the arguments of your opponents to expand your understanding of both sides of your information.
25. FACT/OPINION - List separately the facts and opinions to distinguish between objective and subjective information.
26. STRONG/WEAK - List separately the primary and secondary pieces of information to identify which arguments are most valuable or important.
27. STRUCTURE - List separately the independent and dependent pieces of information to identify how data may or may not support the conclusions.
28. ADI - List your beliefs and opinions of your information to define areas of agreement, disagreement, or irrelevance.
29. EXAGGERATE - List the statements not supported by fact to identify areas where language exceeds information.
30. LEAVE-OUT - List what is missing from your information in order to analyze how Information is presented.
31. MISTAKES - List the mistakes found in your information to identify conflicts with truth or reality.
32. PREJUDICE - List the concepts in your information that are perhaps beyond discussion or argument.

Ways to use information to persuade others

33. SHOW - List the ways to show, demonstrate, or provide direct evidence of the correctness of your information.
34. REFER - List the ways to use facts, feeling, or authorities to provide indirect evidence of the correctness of your information.
35. NAME - List the ways to name, classify, or label information to use language skills to support your information or viewpoint.
36. JUDGE - List the ways to attach values to your information as a means to support your arguments or information.
37. OUTCOME - List the results of your efforts to persuade others to see what was and was not achieved.

Ways to create new information

38. PO - List all possibilities without passing judgment to prevent immediate dismissal of potentially useful information.
39. STEPPING STONES - List outrageous, magical, or fanciful solutions as a way to trigger perhaps more useful solutions.
40. RANDOM INPUT - Combine essential components with unrelated ideas to stimulate creative or associative thinking.
41. CHALLENGE - List ways to eliminate each component part to focus attention on the actual purposes of each component.
42.DIVERGE - List the divergent ways to achieve your goals to shift from current solutions to new perspectives.
43. CENTRAL IDEA - List ways to redefine the central idea to change the constraints on acceptable solutions.
44. REMOVE FAULTS - List how to remove each existing fault to identify ways to improve the current solution.
45. COMBINATION - List different ways to organize the components in order to find new ways to view the relationships of components.
46. REQUIREMENTS - List your requirements by importance to find the central elements of any solution.
47. EVALUATION - List the differences between your needs and possible solutions to establish standards for selecting a suitable solution.

Ways to expand existing information

48. I/O - List what is in and left out of your information to establish the completeness of your data.
49. QUESTIONS - List all the questions to ask in order to clarify your need for and ways to obtain more information.
50. CONTRADICTION - List the contradictions or false conclusions to find unintentional or perhaps purposeful errors in your information.
51. GUESS - List the probabilities in guesses and forecasts to establish the reliability, value, and usefulness of your information.
52. BELIEF - List your own beliefs in your information to identify personal attitudes toward your information.
53. SUBSTITUTES - List the language and ideas found in your information that serve to eliminate thinking.
54. EMOTIONS - List the appeals to basic human needs in order to identify the fundamental messages in your information.
55. SIMPLIFY - List the most basic relationships found in your information to aid understanding and memory of information.