The Delta File

Questions This Guidance Answers: 
  • What is a delta file?
  • What kind of things should I record in a delta file?
  • Where do I keep my delta file?

This cast recommends keeping an ongoing Delta File of changes you will make in the future.

One of the things Mike and Mark have noticed over the years is how differently we all see ourselves depending upon the role we're in. It's amazing the significance we give to context - that is, what seems completely normal to one person in one role looks frankly crazy to someone else in a different role. Sadly, when many of us become managers we're VERY likely to do the very same things our managers did to us.

Most of you would probably argue that last point - no, no, you say, I won't visit the sins of MY boss on MY team someday, when *I* become a manager. We're glad you feel that way...but frankly, there's not a lot of evidence of that. Managers are generally behaving in the same ineffectual and often disrespectful, uncommunicative, and domineering ways they used to. It's been this way for years, and if it were a LOT different, we'd be talking about it.

What CAN we do about it? Vow to change things when we have managerial power. And that starts with keeping track of what you'd change, with a Delta File.

  1. What is a Delta File?
  2. What goes in it?
  3. How do I keep one?

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Mark introducing a cast - I

Mark introducing a cast - I nearly fell out of my chair!

Keeping the file

Hi guys,

Your idea is excellent as I was always wondering how to keep myself accountable for my promises not to repeat someone else's mistakes.

I generate a lot of hand-written notes. That is why I have hard times arranging them into folders or binders because they usually contain mixed information. When I decide that some information is personal and important, I always transfer it to electronic file the first moment I sit on my PC or next morning, when I review my notes from the previous day.

In MS Office 2007 you can install the "Microsoft Office Live Add-in" it will allow you to use the workspace they provide (, which is accessible from everywhere. I have all my important files there and since this morning I have "The Delta File.docx" there too.

Thank again for your advices!

Good morning, that is yet

Good morning,

that is yet another example of manager-tools giving me a perfect suited tool for my personal development. This is something I should have had months ago…

I made some serious mistakes by my own of which I never thought I’d make them. I put some pressure on directs almost exactly the same way my former bosses did with me. But fortunately I have a perfect team that helped me overcoming these “dark temptations”.

And ever since I listened to this podcast I have another tool to remind me of behaviors I never ever should engage in. Every one of us should remember that it is actually scientifically proven that, if you are under serious pressure and things aren’t working out quite as you’d like them to, you might adhere to behaviors you would, under normal circumstances, decline and judge as immoral or unethical.

Thank you, Mark and Mike.

Back on the wagon

Hi guys- just catching on on podcasts after a somewhat lengthy absence. I took on a challenging new assignment and haven't had as much time for development as I would have liked.

Great cast! I got out a folder and labelled it w/ a triangle while I was listening. I've got a tear-off mini legal pad on my desk so I can jot things down tear 'em off and toss 'em in file with little or no friction.

Also, anybody working GTD should be processing their notes for next actions, waiting fors and reference at least once a day which lessens the impact of embedding those reminders in a notebook. I like Mark's point about using a triangle to denote a something that should be filed as a delta. Good point on text files by Mike too. I've been burned by a corrupted file in an application I was using and lost my entire knowledge base because of it.


Rob, Great to have you back!


Great to have you back!