Pros / Cons Analysis

(What is good and bad with each alternative?)


Pros/Cons analysis helps you think about the pros (what is good) and the cons (what is bad) with each alternative.

This type of reasoning has a history that goes back to Benjamin Franklin in his letter to Joseph Priestley in 1772. (Click here to see the actual letter).

Pros/Cons can help you filter out bad alternatives quickly so you do not spend more time on them. They can highlight some good alternatives that are worthy of more analysis.

Steps for Pros/Cons Analysis

  1. Select the alternatives you wish to analyze

  2. List the important pros and cons for each alternative

  3. Order the pros and cons from most important to least important

  4. See if the pros outweigh the cons, or if the cons outweigh the pros, or if the pros and cons balance

Results of the Analysis

Pros/cons analysis will tell you if an alternative is worth considering.

If the pros outweigh the cons, or if pros and cons balance for any alternative, then you should consider this alternative as worthy of further analysis.

If cons outweigh the pros, you might want to exclude this alternative from the list of viable alternatives. You will know why you are excluding this alternative.


You may have multiple alternatives for which the pros outweigh cons or the pros and cons balance. To determine which of these is best, you can use either:

  1. Weight and Rate analysis (if you have no uncertainty) or

  2. Decision Tree analysis (if you have uncertainty)