November 1, 2018
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1. People are the experts in their own lives but they are not treated that way. Feedback facilitates their agency.
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2. By listening and acting on feedback, we (providers and funders) are working to shift power to people we seek to help.
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3. Listening to and acting on feedback as part of the normal course of operations creates a culture of responsiveness and learning that makes interventions more effective.
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4. Feedback is gathered through deliberate and safe conversations with people, not about them.
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5. Sharing and interpreting feedback with people generates mutual understanding, insights, and solutions.
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6. People’s feedback is acted upon and results in tangible changes that are communicated back to people providing feedback.
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7. Feedback data are shared with relevant stakeholders to promote transparency and external learning.
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8. Gathering and using feedback does not harm people who offer their perspectives.
Confidentiality is feasible and humored for those that wish it.
Feedback is socialized and operationalized across organizational culture.
At a quick glance, each of these principles should be declarative statements. Adding a value statement – “must” – gives it a lot more power.
As it is written now, principle 8 is simply untrue. Many times people are harmed by providing their input/feedback/stories. (Think of sexual assault survivors!) Add the ‘must.’
What do these principles accomplish? Are they supposed to set ground rules? Or is it a declaration of goals?
Excellent initiative to collate feedback from multiple stakeholders in a collaborative way (wouldn’t expect anything less from Feedback Labs!).
Selfish question: What tool are you using? Is it freely available?
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…but they are not treated like that.
This first sentence doesn’t make sense on initial reading. Do you mean that in certain systems, the premise is that people aren’t the experts?
“Facilitates their agency” is a bit jargon-y.
I would add the word “always” so that it reads “…but they are not always treated that way.” This makes it sound less absolute and leaves room to acknowledge the places/spaces where feedback is already working.
I agree. Adding “always” would be useful.
Expert may be too strong, especially in health and human service interventions….perhaps something like “People are the most knowledgeable about their own lives..”
Service providers and funding partners rely on their expertise to inform our work and learning.
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Listening but not acting leads to cynicism on the part of those surveyed, making it less likely they will provide input the next time. So it is critical to report back on what you did with their input – hopefully including the action you took, but if you didn’t or couldn’t take action, you should also explain that, too.
“shifting power” may be an over statement…”are working to be better by listening, respecting and responding to the people we seek to help”
…, because they are key actors and partners in creating change in their own lives.
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Agree entirely. Ironically, from management gurus from Drucker to Peters to Collins have always prioritized the feedback of customers (those served) and considered this a natural act of good management. No change, just confirming importance.
Hi Brad – I would suggest a more expansive view of the benefits of the feedback process. Feedback done expansively invites clients to become c0-partners in defining solutions. It not only facilitates their agency and empowers them (your #1& 2) it shifts some responsibility to them and thereby develops their skills and builds their confidence that they can solve their own problems. When client feedback is an input into the nonprofit, then the power still resides with the nonprofit which defines when and how to ask for feedback, and how to use the resulting info. When clients are entrusted as co-creators, then power and responsibility really shifts.
Listening and acting on feedback *can* …. make interventions more effective. (when coupled with the right systems to listen to and take action on that feedback). Not all feedback systems work effectively as a couple of recent impact evaluations have shown. Emphasizing how feedback has to sit within broader systems both helps to manage expectations around feedback (feedback itself not a pancea) and compels actors to incorporate complementary system-wide interventions to act on feedback.
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“not about them” is awkward wording. I am inferring the intention is to recommend feedback is delivered/shared directly to/with people, not said about them out of context or behind their backs.
Recommending using “I/you” statements in the first/second person vs. “they/he/she” statements in the third-person could help clarify.
Additionally, “safe” is a designation that is earned and has many different definitions. For example, we might be inclined to label a meeting for feedback as a “safe” space, but we must qualify what “safe” means and some standards/values/past experiences must have validated for those engaging in feedback that the conversations or space are indeed safe…sometimes they’re not.
I don’t mean to over-complicate these concise guidelines, but one or two short qualifiers to define “safe” or how “safe” is achieved feel needed here.
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= clear expectations about what feedback can and can’t influence/ ($ focused accordingly)
This might be slightly different from the point you’re making but it also feels important to me that people in the community and local providers get access to feedback data and monitoring data in a timely way so that they can use it themselves to improve their lives and their work, day in and day out. Measurement systems should be designed with this as a primary purpose – it empowers the community and the front line and helps them pioneer local innovation and adaptation, which is critical to networked systems change. Feedback and monitoring data doesn’t necessarily need to be abstracted or heavily interpreted before people can put it to use.
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Should we be explicit that in the instances where feedback cannot be acted upon, it should at least be acknowledged?
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to ‘relevant stakeholders’ add ‘(including the people themselves)’
Combine Principles 6 & 7 into one principles.
Agreed, 6-7 feel like they can be combined.
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Rather than “does not harm,” read as “should not harm” – more of a call to practice that way rather than a blanket statement?
Consider qualifying “harm” – e.g. physical, emotional, economic, etc. Important that costs and risks of providing feedback are clear to people offering their perspectives, and that these do not outweigh the benefits of providing that feedback. Much to draw from ethical research principles.
General feedback on all of the above re: “how of feedback.” The guidelines are written in the passive voice and might benefit from rewording that begins each statement with a simple action verb in the present tense.
Additionally, absent from these guidelines are is any statement on feedback being balanced, reflecting both strengths and areas for growth/improvement, which I would highly recommend.
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December 11, 2018 at 2:57 am
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