Constant Feedback

Constant Feedback

I was on a call with our good friend Eric the other day (CEO of Explainify) and he wanted my thoughts and feedback on a new project they were set to release. I didn't have a whole lot of feedback for him, but what I gave him were my raw, initial thoughts on his new video. My feedback didn't exactly make sense when I said it, but I gave it and some of it was useful, some wasn't.

What struck me about this conversation wasn't the quality of feedback that I gave, or lack of it, but the fact that Eric listened to everything I said and gave it 100% focus and attention. He even used a couple of my thoughts to make a few polishing tweaks.

Reveal blind spots by seeking honest feedback

I was reminded of a story about Steve Jobs. He used to have his neighbors demo the new iterations of the iPhone. He would go door to door in his neighborhood watching how his neighbors used the new iPhone they were building—paying close attention to the negative feedback.

Elon Musk (co-founder of PayPal, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors) always seeks feedback. He says, "Pay attention to negative feedback, and solicit it, especially from friends." He especially pays attention when it's negative and disregards the positive.

Seek constant feedback. Be deliberate about receiving feedback from everyone on what you're creating and building. Get your friends to give feedback and push hard for honest, negative feedback. Most of them won't want to hurt your feelings, but they usually know what's wrong with your product, your new app, your website, your idea. Push them for the honest truth.

I've heard this many times recently and I'm starting to see that inherently our team at Emerging Ideas fosters this in our relationships. Eric calls me and asks for feedback. And I'm honest and harsh sometimes. But we are honest with each other. And it makes what we're working on that much stronger and better.

Seek constant feedback–both positive and negative

Pull it out of your friends. They won't tell you cause they like you. Make them tell you.
Be apathetic about your product/service/idea when you ask for feedback. Just shut up and listen. Then work to take that feedback and refine what you're working on.

We launched a big website years ago for the whole of Africa. We didn't show it to a single, potential customer until we had already spent over $100,000 on development and technology. It was silly, we wasted time and some of our hard-earned money.

Don't do that. Seek feedback early and often. If it's all positive, you're not getting the truth.

Here's your action point: Take stock of the people that give you feedback. Are there any that always tell you what you want to hear? Change your feedback clan.

Special thanks to friends and colleagues Eric Hinson, Jordan Winn, PJ Tormey (the Jedi master of honest critics) for always telling us the truth about our ideas and projects.

(photo via mollybob)