In The Fifth Discipline, Peter Senge describes learning organizations “where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to learn together.”

Once we start to become conscious of how we think and interact, and begin developing capacities to think and interact differently, we will already have begun to change our organizations for the better. Those changes will ripple out around us, and reinforce a growing sense of capability and confidence.” — The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook, p. 48

Here is a simple evaluation tool developed by Interaction Associates for teams at Boeing that stretches teams to even higher levels of performance.

Plus identifies what is going well, what the individual or team wants to maintain and build upon the next time.
Delta (∆ — the Greek symbol for change or gap) signifies those things that might be changed to improve the process or activity. Deltas are written with a positive outcome in mind, instead of “what went wrong.”

Once this exercise is incorporated into ongoing meetings, it can usually be done in 5 minutes. You’ll find the level of participation in meetings improves dramatically after only a few sessions.

Here’s how to use it.

On chart paper or a writeboard, draw a large “T”. Label “What worked?” and “What could we do differently?” above each column.

Identify the things that are working first (Plus); then list the Deltas — the items to do differently. Begin the Deltas with a verb to make them action-oriented.

Clarify assumptions and generalized descriptions. “This was great,” will need more information to be meaningful — “What specifically was appealing to you?” “What made it great?”

Act on the Deltas as soon as possible and bring the chart to the next meeting as a reminder of actions for focus.

Keep a cumulative log to periodically check as the Pluses and Deltas become habit with the group.

Uses and variations

Plus-Delta can be used for feedback in any setting with individuals or groups of any size.

  • meetings
  • project conclusion or mid-point
  • personal reflection
  • end of day
  • end of week

I’ve used this with my niece and nephew on their visits to Los Angeles in an effort to improve each day and a goal of making this trip the “best ever.”

Variations include having individuals write on post-its, adding + or ∆ on each, and post on the chart. Or you can increase anonymity by using a paper evaluation form. The key to building organizational learning is to share the results.

Adding “Appreciations of Others” before the Plus-Delta exercise can improve safety within the group and the quality of the Plus-Delta feedback.

For your customers, Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba have developed a Customer Plus-Delta as part of their Creating Customer Evangelists process. For more information, see: