As the year runs down we’re in a reflective mood at Feedback Labs. It’s been a year of exciting growth for us: our team doubled in size, with Meg and Megan joining Sarah and Dennis. Our network grew too: this year we reached over 200 organizations through LabStorms, Summits, and initiatives like the Practical Adaptation Network. Growth can be hard to manage, and can mean that important habits, like listening to and acting on feedback, fall by the wayside. So for 2016’s final Three Things Thursday post, we’re enumerating three practices that help us walk the talk in closing feedback loops as our team and our network grows.
- Culture, culture, culture. Maintaining a culture of feedback as you add new people to your team and new activities to your work plan can be difficult. At Feedback Labs, we strive for a culture of low hierarchy but very high accountability – we know for every task and outcome who is responsible. Knowing exactly who is responsible for which outcome makes it easier to target our feedback as a team. Low levels of hierarchy help us feel that any of us can give feedback to anyone else.
- Community first, tool second. It can sometimes seem like feedback loops are all about tools – and tools can be very handy, especially for collecting and analyzing feedback. But we feel that it’s more important to build a robust community with shared pain points, language and motivation to work together than it is to build the perfect tool. We’ve found that strong communities that are primed with a solid sense of the problems they’re trying to solve are more likely to start using a tool. Introducing a tool without a strong community of potential users is a far harder prospect. Community first, tool second – it’s the alternative to ‘build it and they will come.’
- Always say ‘Thank you.’ At this year’s Feedback Summit we introduced our first ever ‘Feedback Award’ to thank a Summit participant who had pointed out a relatively small spelling mistake we had made several times. It was light-hearted and fun, but it served an important purpose. By celebrating and thanking everyone who offers us feedback, even if it seems trivial or straightforward, we hope to encourage people with tougher feedback for us to let us know. We believe feedback is a gift, and we should thank people who give it to us.
We’re excited for what 2017 will bring to Feedback Labs, and we know that our ability to make the most out of the new year depends in part on our ability to solicit and act on the feedback we receive. We appreciate your thoughts and comments at any time – email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!