How Not to Screw up Pluses and Deltas

An extremely powerful, yet often misused, tool is pluses and deltas. I say misused since 9 out of 10 people I know (including MANY consultants) do not know how to do them properly.

What are they?

The easiest way to do pluses and deltas is to simply write “plus” and “delta” while drawing a line down the middle onto flip chart paper. The basic idea is after a meeting or training class (especially training classes) each person in the meeting or class will write on post-it notes things they liked about the session (pluses) and things they thought could be improved (deltas). Each person should leave at least one plus and delta before leaving.

The biggest mistake

The biggest mistake people make with pluses and deltas revolves around the proper definition of a delta. Deltas are NOT complaints. For example, if the room was too hot during the day a complaint would be “the room was too hot.” A delta would be “please make the room cooler.” There is a big difference.

The reason this is so important is because the person running the meeting or training class should act on every delta they can. For example, I was running a Six Sigma training class once and got a delta “please provide sweet tea in afternoon.” This was an excellent delta since I could act on it – and I did. Subsequently, the next day there was a plus saying “thanks for the sweet tea!” Little acts like getting someone sweet tea can turn a good training session or meeting into a great one. So if all you get are complaints it can be hard to act on them. Good deltas, however, are easy to act on.

Second biggest mistake

The second biggest mistake people make is to argue or debate with the class or meeting attendees about deltas. If someone wants the room cooler don’t make any wise comments like, “I thought the temperature was fine.” As an administrator of the meeting or training class what you think matters little.

Lastly, when running through the pluses and deltas with the participants (at end of the day or start of the next day) start with the deltas and end with the pluses. It makes things happier.

If you don’t use pluses and deltas you are missing a great opportunity to hold better meetings and training classes. Give it a try and watch how much better things are when you do them correctly!

Until next time, I wish you all the best on your journey towards continuous improvement.

3 Comments

  1. robert

    March 30, 2007 - 7:18 am

    Ron

    Is this the same as force field analysis? If not what makes it different?

    Rob

  2. Jon Miller

    March 30, 2007 - 1:25 pm

    Great tip Ron.

  3. Ron Pereira

    March 30, 2007 - 3:17 pm

    Thanks Jon.

    Hi Rob,
    They are different but work in the same spirit. Pluses and deltas are much more straight forward and filled out by others where force field analysis is more about making decisions (forces for us and against us). They are similar in nature but I would say serve different reasons. Really good food for thought though!