Welcome to Feedback Labs!FeedBackLabs_circleLogo_HiRes100px


If you find yourself asking the following three questions, then you have come to the right place:

  1. “What do citizens want?”
  2. “Are they getting it?”
  3. “If not, how will things change?”

Much excellent work has been done over recent years to answer the first and second questions. Our goal is to catalyze that work and make it matter by focusing on the third question – “How will things change?”

Aid, philanthropy, and government programs are often designed, implemented and evaluated by experts. We think that citizens should increasingly be in the driver’s seat. Experts are still important, but in many cases their role needs to shift from being a decision-maker to being people who enrich and inform conversations among citizens.


What will Feedback Labs do?

Based on what we have heard so far, we think we can add value in three ways:

  • Frame the issues – for example, what exactly do we mean by feedback loops? What works and what doesn’t? What is the evidence for impact?
  • Help close the feedback loop – uncover approaches that are succeeding at finding out what people want and whether they are getting it, and then helping to close the loop by understanding (and in some cases funding) what it takes to translate citizen voice into real changes in programs.
  • Facilitate mainstreaming ­– i.e., assist aid, philanthropy and government organizations adopt feedback loops in their normal course of operation. We want to make feedback loops the norm rather than the exception.

Historically we have often assumed that the flow of knowledge is from the richer countries to the poorer.  But learning goes both ways, and in the case of feedback loops, some of the most innovative approaches are being pioneered in developing countries.  So we plan to support work both internationally and domestically.

In addition to the founding members, many people and groups have played a role in the launch of Feedback Labs, but I want to highlight two of them here.  First, the Center for Global Development (CGD), where I was a Visiting Fellow in 2012-13, supported much of the conceptual work that led to the creation of the Labs.  What a pleasure to spend that time with some of the smartest (and nicest!) people anywhere.  And second, the Rita Allen Foundation provided a seed grant and great insights that have enabled us to get the ball rolling.


Join Us

Finally, we wouldn’t be worthy of the name Feedback Labs if we didn’t seek your feedback and ideas.  Please send them to us.  And if you want to support us or become involved, we would welcome that as well. Thank you!

How to Get Involved


Dennis Whittle, Leadership Group Member, Ashoka
Twitter: @DennisWhittle

One Response to “Welcome to Feedback Labs!”

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