Second Edition of Brag, Worry, Wonder, Bet Incorporates New Insights

Two business women talking in a performance review

By Steve King, CPED Instructor

Many years ago, I was challenged by a senior leader to improve the way our organization delivered performance reviews. Like most organizations, there were forms to fill out documenting the reviews and, as this leader rightly pointed out, the forms had become the default framework for delivering messages about performance.

The reviews had become perfunctory. They had become stale.

My response to his challenge was to create an approach that was conversational and placed filling out the forms on the back burner.

The framework I developed came to be known as brag, worry, wonder, bet (BWWB). These four words are used as conversation starters between a manager and their team member to jointly explore:

  • What’s gone well (brag)
  • What’s not going so well (worry)
  • What might be (wonder)
  • What’s seems likely (bet)

Ten years ago, I wrote a book on this BWWB approach to feedback. The book has been used as part of CPED’s management programs for quite a while. Perhaps some of you reading this blog encountered it yourself.

During those intervening 10 years we have learned a lot about the use of this conversation starter. For example, when an organization is attempting to build a culture of psychological safety, BWWB turns out to be an ally in that effort. Impactful and thoughtfully delivered feedback is a cultural plus.

We have also learned that there are subtle differences between delivering feedback in person and delivering feedback virtually to hybrid team members.

I’ve heard from many users about their experience with BWWB, and it was this feedback about how to give feedback that prompted me to create a second edition of the book.

These new insights and a handful of others have been added to the new, second edition of Brag, Worry, Wonder, Bet, published in March 2024.

To all my co-authors, thank you. And for new readers and re-readers, let the improved conversations begin and resume.

Steve King is an instructor for the Wisconsin School of Business Center for Professional & Executive Development. Prior to this role, Steve served as the president and executive director of CPED for five years. Formerly, Steve was chief learning officer and vice president of talent management for Baxter and before that the senior vice president of human resources at Hewitt Associates for seven years. Steve has an M.A. from the University of Wisconsin and a B.A. from the University of Iowa, both in economics.