Posted on May 15 2009

PISCO – Edward deBono has authored several critical thinking works. Another one of his popular models, is termed “PISCO”. P(urpose), (I)nput, (S)olutions, (C)hoice, (O)peration is a very generic thinking model which can be applied to decision making. Like both SWOT and PEST , the acronym can be used as a list generator , leading the decision maker to create a free-form list under each category.


We’ll start by discussing Purpose. This step is used to examine issues and frame the decision. What is the purpose of the decision? Here are some “hints” or trigger questions to enable the decision maker to create their boundaries for the decision. – What is the Purpose of the decision?

– What is the problem to be solved?

– What is the CRUX of the problem?

– Does our frame/boundaries define the right problem?

– Challenge ourselves

– Seek other opinions

– Welcome diversity

Brainstorm it – think about all the potential purposes of this decision

– Lateral thinking – list things related laterally to the decision at hand?

– Benchmarking – are there any benchmarks related to the decision?

– Monitor the world – is there global influences on the decision?

– Examine analogous situations


The second step in deBono’s PISCO thinking model is to gather input. The intention is to communicate and gather knowledge surrounding the decision.

– Gather data – What do we need to know to make the decision?

– Communicate. Make sure that we know what the stakeholders know. Make sure that the stakeholder knows what we know.

– How Much Input is needed?

– First several interviews provide most of the data.

– Breadth then depth (skim, highlight, read) – think wide, rather than deep when gathering info

– To improve data gathering – include a confidence level in any estimates needed, provide feedback to people for calibration, question all assumptions, review data

– Exploration of the data – during the input stages, we may need to explore some aspect the decision to be made. We may not know enough about the design/structure it should take. If the stakeholder has not formed a clear perception of what the decision should achieve, this needs to be explored.

– A key exploration technique is prototyping or modeling – which models can be applied here?


The third step in PISCO is creation plausible solutions.

Generate Alternatives – Practiuce divergent thinking

– Ask how this decision can be made? How can things be done?

– Be Provocative or practice lateral thinking. Invert an assumption to come up with more potential solutions. For example, reverse the assumption “our production lines have fixed capacity” vs. our production lines have variable capacity.

– If you are using this model model within a group group environment, debate. It can be healthy and generate more solutions.

– Employ deBono’s Six Thinking Hats  technique – can this generate more solutions?


The fourth step within PISCO is Choice.

Evaluate the solutions, employ tools and arrive at a decision.

– Practice Convergent thinking

– Employ Evaluation models. You can and/or should choose more than one here such as the PMI Tool , a Subjective Linear Model (SLM) or a Weighted Matrix . You might want to use a Risk assessment to each viable solution.

– Eliminate alternatives that don’t meet mandatories before going into a detailed evaluation.

– Note that criteria, must differentiate between alternatives


The fifth step within PISCO is Operation

– List the steps necessary to put the choice into operation. Set a Goal/target, Action, Why, Who is responsible, and When will it be done

– Just Do it!

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