PPCO, What it is & its relationship to SWOT analysis
We all know what the letters in SWOTanalysis stand for, but what about PPCO? they are: Pluses, Potential, Concerns (Fears) & Overcomes Concerns (or Options/ Opportunities)
Recently on twitter, having posted a tweet about SWOT, I was asked about PPCO. I had heard of it but had not done much research on it, or its applications or history.
A simple Internet search will bring up a wide variety of options for this model. It is one of the attempts to find a more positive approach to the development of solutions. the most common form for this is “PPC – Pluses Potential Concerns”
So when is PPCo best used?
When reviewing ideas or during creative thinking activities, using a SWOT can be taken to be an overly negative approach, so many now look at reviewing creative ideas with a different perspective. PPCO is one such approach.
Using the PPCO technique it is an approach to judge ideas affirmatively.
- Pluses: What are (at least) three things you like about the idea?
- Potentials: What are (at least) three good things that might result if the idea were implemented?
- Concerns: What are some concerns you have about the idea (phrased as a question starting with “How to…” or “How might…”)
- Options or Overcome the concerns: What are some ideas you have for how to fix the concerns you just noted?
Three popular affirmative idea evaluation techniques
Any of these will explore more about an idea. They complement how different people think, but all deliver similar results.
- PPCo – Pluses, Potential, Concerns, …brainstorm what might overcome the concerns
- LCOb – Likes, Concerns, Opportunities…brainstorm the possibilities
- ALUo – Advantages, Limitations, Unique connection criteria, brainstorm what might overcome the limitations
- POINt – Pluses, Opportunities, Issues and New thinking
In an engineering context PPCo is often used when a decision has been made and data is required in preparation for the action phase of a project, looking to take the concepts into feasible ideas. This seems a reasonable approach providing a full SWOT had been undertaken on the concept and business case in the first instance. PPCo is often used in association with a root cause analysis.
There is a place for frameworks like PPCO, however I believe that when done properly a SWOT or SOFT is just as valid. Whilst there is a tendency for many to be biased in developing a SWOT analysis – it is a rounded view – internal and external pluses and minuses. My concern is that with many of the mostly positive based methodologies it is more about helping the proponent to feel good than it is to carry out an honest review.
Ruggiero, V. R. (2004 – 7th edition). The Art of thinking: A guide to critical and creative thought. Pearson: Longman.
Firestien R, (1989). Why Didn’t I Think of That? A Personal and Professional Guide to Better Ideas and Decision Making. (developed by Bob Moore, at Pfizer into POINt)
Patricia Elwell, Donald J. Treffinger (1993) CPS for Teens: Classroom Activities for Teaching Creative Problem Solving
PPCO – Pluses, Potential, Concerns & Options