Tools I use: Plus/Delta

There are a few tools I use on an almost weekly basis. Some of these help me get more stuff done, some of them help me do things better. One of these tools is Plus/Delta.

Plus/Delta is dead-simple. Two columns, one labeled “Plus” and one labeled “Delta.” You can do it on a whiteboard, on a collaborative Google Doc (here’s one), on paper, on Post-Its or on index cards. Have a facilitator scribe, or have the participants write their Plusses and Deltas on notecards or on Post-Its. Have the participants in the session articulate what worked well (“Plus”) and what they would change for next time (“Delta”). Capture everything, summarize the key points, learn from it and iterate. The whole process shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes.


It pretty much works with any size group; I’ve used it in groups up to about twenty or so. If the group is really large, break it into smaller subgroups and have each group do its own Plus/Delta. Then have each group pick a representative to share their results to everyone in the larger group in turn.

Plus/Delta works best when you make it a default part of a process. It’s just “the thing you do after you did something else.” For example:

  • Did you just do a two-day workshop? Have the participants engage in Plus/Delta near the end of the second day in order to understand how to do a better workshop next time.
  • Did you invest time to go to a conference? Plus/Delta.
  • Did your team pitch a project to a client? What do you do when you get back to the office? Plus/Delta.
  • How did that last development sprint go? Plus/Delta.
  • Is that an antelope driving a car? Plus/Delta. (Nope. Chuck Testa.)

You can learn more about Plus/Delta in the book Gamestorming, by Dave GraySunni Brown and James Macanufo. It’s one of dozens of tools in the very rich Gamestorming tool kit.

By the way, this post came about as part of the Weekly Post Challenge, proposed by Dre Armeda. You can find a few other posts from this week by Mendel KurlandKelley Koehler, Chris Ford, Matt MedeirosDre Armeda and an epic post from John Hawkins on how to produce a podcast.

image: Johanna Kollmann via cc by 2.0


A Lifehack For Those Who Fly On Southwest Airlines


As I was getting ready to take the El to the airport today, I realized that I had a problem. Since I was flying on Southwest, the earlier the check-in the better, as a result of their “Group A-B-C” boarding policy. Yet, I was in my hotel room and did not have a printer…although I could check-in online, I wouldn’t be able to print my boarding pass, effectively putting me in a Catch-22.

If I didn’t check-in before I left the hotel, I’d be destined for a “Group C” boarding experience. But if I did check-in online, I wouldn’t have a boarding pass to get through security. What to do?

Then I remembered “the magic option” on the Southwest Airlines kiosks that I had seen when I had checked in for my outbound flight. That magic option? “Reprint Boarding Pass.” (I had actually needed to use this option when checking in for my outbound flight, as the first boarding pass had jammed coming out of the printer and had been ripped to ribbons in the process.)

Here’s how this little trick works:

1) Before leaving the hotel (or even the night before), go online and check-in for the flight. The site checks you in. Then your browser shows your boarding pass, and puts you in the “group” you’re qualified for by virtue of checking in early. After you’re checked in, close your browser window. (In normal circumstances, such as at home or at the office, you’d actually print this out.)

2) Go to the airport

3) Find the nearest Southwest kiosk

4) Put in your ID, and up comes your reservation.

5) Press “reprint boarding pass” (in the lower right-hand corner) and retrieve your reward for being just a little more wily than the average bear.

6) Voila! “Group A” check-ins, nearly every time!