Meg VanDeusen | October 21, 2020
This month, the 2019-20 cohort of Feedback Fellows – a group of ten frontline practitioners from Colombia, Indonesia, Uganda, South Africa, Afghanistan, Mexico, Yemen, Mali, and the USA – completed their fellowship. They are superstars who have and will continue to push feedback to the next level at their organizations and across the world.
When we launched this year’s Feedback Fellows cohort last October, we had no idea what the year had in store for us. Our Fellows have rapidly responded to hurricanes, have gotten aid in the hands of the overlooked, and have adapted their work (based on feedback!) in response to COVID-19. We are so proud of their resiliency and excited to share what they have accomplished.
Over the course of one year, the Fellows have developed a strong commitment and appreciation for feedback and have applied it to their work. Feedback Fellow Sanjay Fernandes hosted a LabStorm session to unpack how to foster belonging and momentum in an increasingly virtual world, while still prioritizing listening and adaptability. Doussouba Konate from Mali, Piter Panjaitan from Indonesia, Ilse Garibay from Mexico, and Farah Al-Wazeer from Yemen each share how they responded to the pandemic with feedback loops in mind. Still other fellows – Yvonne Petrasovits, Muhammad Sooliman, Dr. Pasquine Ogunsanya, Jawad Zawulistani, and Lymari Benitez – presented to the cohort about their commitment to responsiveness during COVID-19.
At the end of the fellowship, we had a final virtual celebration to commemorate the closing of the 2019-2020 Fellowship. Fellows noted that the act of building feedback loops and listening is, at its core, about being human. We couldn’t agree more. We feel so lucky to have seen Fellows bring an element of humanity to their feedback work, and to get to know them each as the amazing humans they are.
We are so honored to have worked with this talented and unique group. But now that the Fellowship is over, it’s time to look to the future. Fellows grew their feedback skills over the past year. So, how are they carrying their commitment to feedback forward after the closing of the Fellowship? The Fellows are:
1. Integrating feedback into their staff and stakeholders’ expectations. The Fellows discussed finding ways to make small changes to their regular workflows and meetings so that their colleagues can understand the value of feedback. Pasquine, for instance, has plans to begin presenting on methods to improve their listening to every department at Alive Medical Services as part of their continuous quality improvement and Yvonne of Doorways of Northwest Florida and Doussouba at Accountability Lab have already begun implementing feedback surveys (and closing the loop) with their team members.
2. Keeping feedback at the forefront of their work. “Feedback is already super embedded in our work; culturally, it’s always been there,” Sanjay, Lymari and Jawad reflected. And they’re right – that’s why we selected them as Fellows in the first place! But following this fellowship, they’re planning to intentionally integrate cultural competency into the design of their feedback loops with a focus on equity and justice at SOLE, Pace Center for Girls, and Afghanistan Human Rights and Democracy Organization.
3. Leveraging the community to support their feedback practices. Piter and Ilse came to the conclusion that community leaders will be key to utilizing feedback as a way for communities to solve the problems they’re facing themselves. They discussed the importance of contextualizing feedback based on the local context, and moving forward are asking how to connect new feedback tools to old societal structures.
We are proud of the Fellows for making a commitment to feedback in their work, this year and always. We can’t wait to see what they do in the coming years!
How we’re walking our own talk
As always, we collected feedback from Fellows to learn what worked and what didn’t in this year’s program. We are proud to share that this year’s Fellows program resulted in an NPS Score of 83. Our Fellows shared with us that the program was a great opportunity to meet people who they wouldn’t have learned from otherwise, that the training courses provided the needed framework and tools for incorporating feedback into their work, and that they left feeling empowered to serve their constituents better. But there is still room for improvement!
We learned that each Fellow had found value – and didn’t find value – from different parts of the fellowship – bringing home for us the unique experience of each fellow and what background they are bringing to the table. For future programs, we will check in with each cohort more frequently throughout the program to ensure we’re meeting their feedback needs, whatever they may be.
We also learned that the top two resources Fellows needed following the course are continued self-diagnostics on their feedback practice and technical tools for implementing what they’ve learned. Check out our Feedback Quiz and the Tools Repository for the resources we’ve built that address these needs, and stay tuned as we continue to develop them in response to our community.
How can you get involved?
We’re currently accepting new partnerships for the Feedback Fellows program. Are you part of a foundation looking to support the deepening of listening across the world? Do you know of another fellowship program that would complement ours well? Please feel free to get in touch as we plan out the 2021 fellowship program.
If you’re a practitioner looking to apply for the fellowship, please add your email address here and we’ll keep you posted as our plans develop.