Nikita Goossens, Feedback Labs | April 18, 2022
One of three themes we explored at the Feedback+Jacksonville Summit in March 2022 was ‘Listening Beyond’. It’s great to listen, but what else is there to do? This theme touched on new ways that allow us to act on feedback, drive change and close feedback loops all at the same time.
Listening Beyond: our takeaways
1. Innovative methods to analyze feedback
If we want to take feedback to another level, we need innovative methods that make it efficient to listen. In ‘Innovations in feedback: lightning talk & panel’ on day 1 of Feedback+Jacksonville, Sandra Garcia of Kuja Kuja presented a tool that collects authentic data from customers and processes the feedback in a timely and visual manner so that organizations are able to respond back to their constituents as soon as possible. Michele Christiansen of Voqal talked about how you can present feedback findings in a visual and creative way so that it is comprehensible for everyone. Finally, Alex Farrington of Lightful shared his experience with using human centered design to think about creative ways to incorporate feedback.
“When [communities] start empowering themselves and being sure they can leave their thoughts, magic happens" says @SandrwGarcia of @KujaKujaGlobal kicking off the Innovations in #feedback: Lightning talk and panel about #ListeningBeyond. #FBLSummit pic.twitter.com/ZTJdkpxswI
— Feedback Labs (@FeedbackLabs) March 2, 2022
Another session that highlighted innovative listening methods, was ‘Katikati – an alternative that puts the conversation first’, which you can rewatch here. During this virtual Breakout Session Sharath Srinivasan of Katikati explored the question of what it really means to listen. He explained that it is important to make people feel understood when you are listening to them. Common chatbots, therefore, are not always a great option for asking questions as they can create a sense of mistrust for people who are expressing their thoughts, especially when addressing more sensitive topics. That is why Katikati designed a communication technology with more conversational intelligence that allows users to collect, respond to and act on what they’re hearing. Sharath also mentioned it is important to adapt your technologies to what can reach people (some don’t have access to computers, so in that case you should look for other methods) and to not make a tool so complicated that it is not accessible to everyone.
Ahmed Whitt of the Center for Employment Opportunities also presented how he uses technology to work on feedback, in his case: SMS surveys. In ‘Broadening Feedback and Sharpening Impact: Monitoring re-entry employment outcomes’ he explained the multi-year research he has been working on: a study looking at the relationship between SMS feedback response behaviors from CEO participants and their outcomes in CEO’s employment program.
“There’s a lot of language traps you can fall into that you really need to think hard about" says a participant from the Broadening Feedback and Sharpening Impact session when discussing carefully communicating intentions to communities. #FBLSummit pic.twitter.com/yk8p1aymoX
— Feedback Labs (@FeedbackLabs) March 3, 2022
2. Feedback for a better society
Feedback can contribute to making our world a better place. ‘Participant voice first!’, virtually presented by Joel Mumo of Busara Center for Behavioral Economics, Inc. (you can rewatch a recording of this session here) highlighted some of the ways this is true. Joel works towards putting the voice of participants first in ethical research in the pursuit of poverty alleviation. He shared the frameworks he uses to do this and talked about the challenges that come with it.
Juan Clavijo of ORS Impact focused on how feedback and equity are connected for nonprofits in his virtual session ‘Feedback and Equity: Connecting the Dots’. His aim is to clarify the conceptual connection by looking at practical examples and patterns. These insights are meant to help nonprofits and funders in the creation of feedback practices that support equity work. You can rewatch this session here.
Finally, ‘The Supplier’s City: How to meaningfully engage diverse vendors for economic inclusion’ also touched on this theme. For this session on day 2 of Feedback+Jacksonville Kisha Bwenge (Open Contracting Partnership), Pa Goldbeck (City of Des Moines) and Nia Richardson (City of Kansas City, Missouri) discussed you cannot reduce economic inequality without addressing the structural bias in public procurement. Local minority and women-owned businesses are less likely to bid, win and deliver government contracts. This session reimagined public spending systems (e.g. through an interactive Escape Room to put yourself in the shoes of a small business looking for an open bid) and discussed how feedback practices can help to make these systems more equal and inclusive.
"Relationships are essential in nonprofits. If you have a good relationship with the right person, it can open so many doors." An insightful quote from Nia Richardson at a #ListeningBeyond session on how to meaningfully engage diverse vendors for economic inclusion. #FBLSummit pic.twitter.com/5TblFAmUtw
— Feedback Labs (@FeedbackLabs) March 3, 2022
3. Building the field is still necessary
When you find yourself surrounded by organizations that already practice feedback in an advanced way, you might get the impression there is not much work left to do. However, during the Opening Plenary ‘Listening by the thousands: How will we build the field?’ on day 3 of Feedback+Jacksonville we were reminded there is still much room for improvement. Today there are still a lot of nonprofits and foundations that are not listening well to the people most affected by their work yet. So how do we work on that? By field-building, as said during this session.
During this plenary Asia Hadley of Candid, Bilal Taylor of Charity Navigator and our own Megan Campbell talked about the progress that is being made on this topic, like e.g. through working groups like the Irritants for Change. They emphasized that to help organizations move toward better feedback practices, we have to make sure there is enough motivation and support present. Both Asia and Bilal presented their nonprofit rating and reward systems, which was followed by encouraging the audience to think of creative ways to build the field as well. You can rewatch the plenary here.
Which of these takeaways did you find most interesting?