Liner Notes

Separate the trash
from the recycling

mosaic art made from recycled plastic items

Critique the goal

The key to giving good feedback is focusing on your goal and providing actionable recommendations.

By focusing on the goal it reduces the personal attachment we have to our work. And by providing actionable recommendations, we offer a potential path for the project to go.

Over the years, the following formula has been essential for giving and receiving great feedback:

For example,
"if the goal is to make this interface easier to use, I recommend removing the icons as they aren't easily understood".

"if the goal is to reduce call centre calls, I recommend improving the password reset flow by adding simpler instructions."

Introducing the formula to your
team culture

Now that you have a formula, you need to introduce it in all of the settings where you seek/give feedback. This can be done overtly when you set the stage at the beginning of feedback sessions. I find being overt as well as teaching my team in their 1on1s this formula works wonders.

Alternatively, you can use this formula subtly, when you give feedback, and hope that others will catch on. 

Separating the trash from the recycling

Once you get all of your feedback you need to then distill it. What feedback is valuable? what resonates with the goal? What feedback may help? what feedback may hurt? 

Note that it’s not about who said it, but whats being said. What feedback will improve the idea and understanding what may hurt it. Focus on the goal, the people who will be using this idea, and your business goals.

What is trash feedback?
What feedback is worth recycling?

If you need help, find someone you trust and run the feedback by them. Perhaps a quick card sort can help? Or even A/B test the feedback.

Note that developing a good sense of what feedback is useful takes time. And over time, reminding one another that some feedback should be directly thrown out and what feedback should be recycled into your idea is key.

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