Leonardo da Vinci

How to Examine Ideas


Part 3: da Vincian Principle of Demonstration

Have you ever thought of why you like the type of music you like? Or why you prefer the type of church you attend? How do you determine your beliefs and opinions?  What are some of the most influential experiences of you life and why? da Vinci’s principle  #2, demonstration,  is what makes us all confident individuals. It’s the principle that forces us to own our beliefs.

To begin a life of evaluation of ideas I use a technique by Edward de Bono called the PMI (Plus, Minus, Interesting).  If there’s an idea to evaluate, I figure what’s a good, bad and interesting about the idea. Even better is to come up with several good, bad and interesting points about the concept. This simple technique forces a 3 dimensional look at the idea and it forces you to look past your own opinion.

Here’s an example:

Idea:  All clothing should be white.

Plus: no longer need to decide what color you want, retailers could carry less stock and therefore less lease space, clothes would just be clothes,

Minus: boring, difficult to recognize your clothing when you take off a sweater or jacket, easier to steal, tougher on missing persons to describe what a person was wearing, restriction of your freedom to choose, negative on clothing companies & fashion designers

Interesting: interesting to see if different shades of white arose, if attitudes towards clothing changed, if it is even enforceable, how it affects fashion.

Ok, that was a simple example. Yet, developing the discipline of examining any idea by using the above example before developing your opinion helps you to own your opinions and beliefs.  It was helps you empathize with those who have differing opinions than you.

The “interesting” exercise force you to expand the idea rather than treat it as static. It trains the mind to react to the interest of the inherent in an idea and not just to judgment of feelings about the idea. A leader should be able to say “I may not  agree with your idea but there are these interesting aspects to it….”  and discuss with their employee the possibilities.


Leading people means learning to understand and appreciate diversity of thought. People bring their best to their jobs. Understanding your values and keeping an open mind to other’s ideas will create an atmosphere where people grow into the best people they can be.

Part 1: da Vincian Life Series Overview

Part 2: Principle #1 Curiosity – Becoming a Life Long Learner