Most of us have a tendency to discard ideas too quickly, because we cannot see the potential value. Gary Bertwistle of Blue Moon Creative, author of the new book The Keys to Creativity, has come up with a technique that he calls PPC, which stands for Positives, Potentials and Concerns, that can help you to overcome this tendency.

“PPC is a very simple but powerful tool that you can use to foster a creative environment for you and those around you… because of the simplicity of the approach, it very quickly trains you in a new way of thinking, and it is a great process to allow you to respect newborn ideas and give them a chance to fly… PPC can…train you to work through your own ideas, evaluate them in a less critical way and present them to yourself in a positive framework… (it also creates) a much more open, positive and creative environment because everyone knows that they and their ideas are going to get a hearing.”

Here’s how to use PPC to give your fledgling ideas a chance to fly:

Positives: start by listing all of the positive things about your idea or concept. What’s great about the idea?  Explore all your idea’s positive aspects completely before moving on to the next step of the PPC process.

Potentials: How can this idea be improved? What could be great about this idea, if you modified one aspect of it? What if you change the timing of the idea? If it can’t be used now, could it have some value in the future?

Your natural tendency will be to focus on why the idea will not work.

Concerns: After you have fully explored the positive aspects and potential value of your ideas, now it’s time to look at what’s not great about your idea. What worries you about it? What parts of the idea do you need to spend more time thinking about or working on?

Gary points out that this approach is especially important when your employees come to you with ideas, because your natural tendency will be to focus on why the idea will not work. This, of course, will tend to discourage your employees from submitting any more ideas to you. By focusing first on the positives and potentials of your employee’s idea, you’ll ensure that that they will leave your office feeling much better about themselves and their ideas, and will increase the odds of them submitted more ideas to you in the future.

What I find interesting about PPC is its overall positive spin. Both “positives” and “potentials” focus on what’s right (or what could be made right) about an idea. But even “concerns” is phrased in such a way as to minimize negativity. Notice that Gary calls this part of his idea evaluation process “concerns,” and not “negatives.”