Monday, November 14, 2011

The Value of Actionable Feedback

I made a presentation to introduce agile and lean to some colleagues and customers during Sogeti Inspiration's Day in Borlänge. I wanted the attendants to get something concrete with them from my talk, something they could apply directly whitout any certified process, method or tool. Something that would start their journey towards delighting their customers. So, I tried to - as quickly as possible - get to the root of agile and lean and make it stick with the attendants.

The result is: Feedback. Or, to be more exact, Actionable Feedback.

For me, actionable feedback is:
  • Timely - short distance and delay from the source of the feedback to the one that can act on it. Feedback has a very special, short-lived energy, that dissipates very quickly. The longer the delay between the creation and consumption of feedback, the less relevent the feedback is (things have a tendency to change rather quickly). The longer the distance (for instance an escalation chain involving several persons, poor communication tools - email!), the more information (context, results, expectations) is lost on the way.
  • Concrete - the one receiving the feedback must be able to understand how to act on it. It is not sufficient to say "it's no good". There must be more information, E.g "it's no good, because this tool makes it very time consuming to manage task X, which is my most common task".
  • Actionable - a receiver of feedback must expect feedback, that is to say to plan to collect the feedback and act on it (create the time, or at least the possibility/option of time). This helps the timelyness of the feedback, as mentionend earlier.

Of course, maintaining the capability to handle actionable feedback takes time and resources. A traditional manager may not be inclined to maintain such an expensive capability, when such time and resources may be better (?!) used pushing out more features. To counter that argument, let me propose a start to a financial model to justify the need of maintaining the capability to handle actionable feedback:

The Value of Actionable Feedback - compared with a traditional management model that does not maintain the capability to deal with Feedback

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