Good/Bad

Good/bad is a meeting activity I use to create a snapshot of a business. It lets the team celebrate some wins and then identify and take action to fix the most pressing problems. When repeated every 3 months the team will knock down problem after problem. Feels good.

Step 1 - Prepare

  1. Add and review the previous Good/Bad results to your meeting agenda.
  2. Get a whiteboard and divide it in half.
  3. On the left side, write “Good” as a heading.
  4. On the right side, write “Bad” as a heading.

Step 2 - Collect ideas

  1. Working around the room, ask each person to contribute something that is currently good about the business or team.
    • Using a numbered list, write these down under the Good heading.
    • Everyone needs to contribute a good.
  2. Repeat for bad.
  3. Open the floor for contributions of both good and bad.
  4. When there are no new items after 60 seconds, stop collecting.

Step 3 - Vote and set accountability

  1. Starting with the newest/most junior, ask each team member to vote for the three most important bads that need to be fixed.
    • Count votes with ticks next to each item.
    • We start with the most junior so that we do not have a bandwagon on whatever the loudest or most senior person votes for.
  2. After voting, take the top 2-4 bads and start a discussion about what should be done to resolve it.
    • These are the “bad-fixing tasks”.
    • They should be achievable in the next 3 months.
    • The number of bads you focus on depends on the scope of the problem and the size of your team. When in doubt take 3.
  3. Ask for a volunteer to be accountable for each task and put their name down on the whiteboard.

Can I use a word other than “bad”?

Sure. I like the prefer the direct simplicity of “good/bad”, but If you’re with a team may be sensitive to this language then you can use the phrases from the feedback model:

  • What’s going well?
  • What’s challenging?

This softens the language up. Follow everything else as normal.

How often should my team do good/bad?

Every 3 months, because:

  1. You should be running a quarterly strategy meeting already. I’ll be writing on this later, subscribe to be notified when the post goes up.
  2. It gives a reasonable due date for the bad-fixing actions.
  3. It gives the team a feeling of accomplishment to see a previous “bad” knocked down and moved into “good”.
  4. It gives the team a chance to celebrate the goods.
  5. If you’re growing or changing, there is always something new.

Who should run Good/Bad?

A faciliator, if possible.

If not then the leader should run the activity and not participate. The bad and bad-resolving actions should be driven by the team so that they have ownership over the results, having the leader pronounce and assign the actions is counter to this idea.

What if I can't think of anything bad?

I've never run this activity and had someone unable to think of a single bad thing about the business or team. So I don't think you're trying hard enough!

Areas you can think about:

  • The things you might complain to your significant other about.
  • The tasks at work that you don't enjoy or think are wasteful.
  • Your competitors.
  • Recent or upcoming changes to the industry.

What happens if a bad shows up again?

Bads will show up again for one of two reasons:

  1. It wasn't a high-enough priority to take action on.
  2. The action taken didn't resolve the bad.

This will happen, and it isn't a problem. Write it down, take action if it's a priority, otherwise it'll be there waiting for you next time. Again.