Larson's 55 Questions
Source: Neil Larson, developer of MaxThink
to Free the Gears of Your Mind
for High-Level Thinking
Ways to expand information
1. PMI - List
the plus, minus, and interesting factors to avoid premature acceptance
or rejection of information.
MISSING - List what's missing from your information in order to
on the completeness of your data.
LIMITS - List the limits of your information or task to better
the boundaries for acquiring information.
List both the written or unwritten process or guidelines that you
CONSEQUENCE - Separate the possible consequences of your
in categories of immediate, short, medium, and long term benefits
List the viewpoints of other participants to identify the different
needs, interests, or goals.
Ways to organize information
AIMS - List your needs and wants to clarify your overall direction
GOALS - List what happens if your goal is reached in terms of
events that can be verified by independent observers.
OBJECTIVES - List what must occur to achieve stated goals in order
to identify ways to measure progress toward predetermined goals.
PLANNING - List all possible approaches before selecting any to
applicable thinking and organizing methods.
11. APC -
List your alternatives, possibilities, and choices in order to
number of available options beyond the obvious approaches.
PRIORITIES - Organize your information by importance to examine
clarify your methods of evaluation and selection.
DECISION - List the reasons for your decision to identify the
you use to make decisions.
Ways to process information
List all familiar and unfamiliar factors to simplify your task of
- Separate your information into component parts to better
purposes and uses of each part.
- List what is similar and different to focus understanding on the
of your information.
WAY - List other possible ways of viewing your information to help
shift your perception away from current perspectives.
List your requirements by priority to focus attention on comparing
needs with any proposed solution.
Ways to manage information
- List all possible ways to start in order to identify your choices
beginning a task.
- List all possible ways to organize in order to focus your efforts on
developing a plan before proceeding.
- List your current thinking to insure current actions are relevant to
your overall goals.
- List what you've achieved so far to see if your plans are still
or need changes.
- List what you did and did not conclude to establish your current
on the relationships of your information.
Ways to examine information from
BOTH SIDES - List the arguments of your opponents to expand your
of both sides of your information.
List separately the facts and opinions to distinguish between
and subjective information.
- List separately the primary and secondary pieces of information to
which arguments are most valuable or important.
- List separately the independent and dependent pieces of
identify how data may or may not support the conclusions.
List your beliefs and opinions of your information to define areas
disagreement, or irrelevance.
- List the statements not supported by fact to identify areas where
List what is missing from your information in order to analyze how
List the mistakes found in your information to identify conflicts with
truth or reality.
List the concepts in your information that are perhaps beyond
Ways to use information to persuade
- List the ways to show, demonstrate, or provide direct evidence of
correctness of your information.
- List the ways to use facts, feeling, or authorities to provide
evidence of the correctness of your information.
List the ways to name, classify, or label information to use
to support your information or viewpoint.
- List the ways to attach values to your information as a means to
your arguments or information.
- List the results of your efforts to persuade others to see what
was not achieved.
Ways to create new information
List all possibilities without passing judgment to prevent immediate
of potentially useful information.
STONES - List outrageous, magical, or fanciful solutions as a
trigger perhaps more useful solutions.
- Combine essential components with unrelated ideas to stimulate
or associative thinking.
- List ways to eliminate each component part to focus attention on the
actual purposes of each component.
- List the divergent ways to achieve your goals to shift from
to new perspectives.
- List ways to redefine the central idea to change the constraints
FAULTS - List how to remove each existing fault to identify ways
improve the current solution.
List different ways to organize the components in order to find new
to view the relationships of components.
- List your requirements by importance to find the central elements of
- List the differences between your needs and possible solutions to
standards for selecting a suitable solution.
Ways to expand existing information
- List what is in and left out of your information to establish the
of your data.
- List all the questions to ask in order to clarify your need for
to obtain more information.
- List the contradictions or false conclusions to find unintentional
perhaps purposeful errors in your information.
- List the probabilities in guesses and forecasts to establish the
value, and usefulness of your information.
- List your own beliefs in your information to identify personal
toward your information.
- List the language and ideas found in your information that serve
- List the appeals to basic human needs in order to identify the
messages in your information.
- List the most basic relationships found in your information to aid
and memory of information.