Natasha Marshall, Feedback Labs | December 4, 2023
While gathering feedback is typically a constantly-evolving process, this can become even more complex when an organization has to consider international contexts and challenges. Results for Development (R4D) is a global nonprofit organization dedicated to tackling development challenges in low- and middle-income countries. Their mission is to unlock solutions across sectors like education, health, governance, and economic development, using data-driven and evidence-based approaches. R4D collaborates with governments, civil society organizations, and foundations, aiming to improve lives through innovative and sustainable solutions. They operate worldwide, conducting research, producing publications, and fostering partnerships to address pressing global issues. R4D is known for its innovative strategies and commitment to enhancing education, healthcare, governance, and economic opportunities for underserved populations.
Results for Development faces an internal feedback challenge where certain people of particular identities do not feel safe and require prioritized attention. While the executive team aspires to create a sense of belonging for everyone, there is a gap in achieving this goal. The organization is deeply committed to fostering a culture of continuous learning, and this hinges on the effective reception of feedback. R4D seeks to gain insights into what is working well and aims to cultivate a diverse perspective on authentic self-expression within the organization.
Establishing a Common Language for Feedback
One of Results for Development’s primary questions was how to establish a common language in the workspace so that experiences feel meaningful but not rigid or prescribed. Suggestions during the LabStorm included testing out feedback questions with staff to see which ones are most successful as well as slowly and incrementally making changes to the questions that already exist. Other points made were for Results for Development to embrace that not all questions will work for all staff and be adaptable, as well as to ask questions to staff upfront to determine what kinds of feedback questions will be the most helpful and accessible.
Soliciting Feedback While Considering Risks
Another challenge Results for Development brought to the discussion was coming up with ways to solicit feedback while considering risks and vulnerabilities, such as staff feeling they have to disclose personal information about race, gender, and sexuality. The primary action step proposed during the discussion was for Results for Development to work with individual governments on the feedback questions to determine ways to address risky questions and situations in that particular area.
Considering International Contexts
The last discussion point of the LabStorm was how Results for Development can adapt feedback efforts for social impact and equity initiatives to be effective in different international contexts. Potential solutions included having members of the R4D team go into international offices so there is less pressure placed on the local office, having clear roles for who on the team does internal or external communications, and looking at ways to be prepared to more easily adapt to changing contexts.
Key takeaways Results for Development had from the discussion included that the organization was prepared to invest more money into these feedback improvement initiatives and to find the right consortium to provide help, as well as that R4D should focus on making sure that those with minority identities have a safe and positive space to provide feedback in that is created by those in the organization with majoritized identities.
Learn More About LabStorms
LabStorms are collaborative problem-solving sessions designed to help organizations tackle feedback-related challenges or share what’s working well in their practice.
Presenters leave the experience with honest, actionable feedback and suggestions to improve their feedback processes and tools.
To learn more about participating in a virtual LabStorm, please visit feedbacklabs.org/labstorms.