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Plus-Delta

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In principle, how we look back affects how we look forward. When we look back at things negatively – finding only faults and things gone wrong – we are apt to look forward with negativity. When we remind ourselves of things gone right we are more apt to look forward with optimism.

Practical Tip: Whenever you look back at a project, an event, or a span of time, keep a ledger column for plusses. Take stock of things gone well. With every evaluation, be sure to acknowledge and evaluate the good things that happened.

And there is no need to put a negative label on the other column. Call it Delta, the mathematical symbol for change. These are things that you would change if you could do it over, things you intend to improve in the future.

This two-column method of looking at the past, plus-delta, helps us learn from past mistakes yet carry optimism into the future.

– Craig Freshley

Click here for one-page PDF of this Tip, a great way to print or share.

10 thoughts on “Plus-Delta

  1. Thanks for the note, Cousin Nancy.

    Looking forward with optimism……I think I will see you in a couple months!

    Looking back with optimism, don’t you and I come from terrific stock? Such a wonderful family we were born into.

  2. Thanks for writing Jim. As a rule, I would generally jot on the chart any comment that anyone makes, whether it is a consensus opinion or not. In this way the Plus/Delta is a taking stock of all opinions and not just opinions that everyone agrees with. And as a practical matter, there is danger at the end of a meeting in trying to get agreement on “one more thing.” I think it best to acknowledge all reflections, good and bad, without judgment.

    Having said all that, there may be a lot of value in taking up “deltas” at a subsequent meeting and discussing if any change in behavior is warranted to address any of them.

  3. Should the + be a consensus observation or just a minority of the attendees. I have attended a coordination meeting among different departments in a company where the deltas are challenged.

  4. Darn it Craig, here I am 83 and having to admit I take advice from a young man half my age! This is great and I never would have thought of this approach!

  5. We have worked hard on a Competency Assessment model for the last four years. The Plus-Delta Method could give us a fresh way to evaluate our progress in developing our model.

  6. This is extremely valuable! There are so many ways to discredit “learning” as failure. Thank you for this approach.

  7. What a timely tip! I think it will be very useful in this time of so much negativity. Criticism as feedback has served me well and the delta-plus model will be a powerful addition allowing the shift needed to carry optimism into the future. By the way, that future is really just a series of “now” moments. Enjoy each one!

  8. I like to think of it as “what would you keep” and “what would you change.” I find people much more willing to share with this approach versus “what did you like” and “what did you not like.” great tip!

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