A creative network of the idea, by the idea, for the idea

Friday, March 27, 2009

The (lost?) art of giving feedback

As a creative, feedback is your fuel. Or your stake in the heart or your wings, or a dead end or an opening in the sky. People telling you their "feedback" about ideas is the currency of our job.

We receive feedback from our team, our creative director, other creatives, account services, planners, lower level clients, higher level clients, girl friends and boy friends. Everybody is ready and willing to provide feedback. Unfortunately very few times we received the gift of good feedback.

Feedback or the art of processing, analyzing and providing an evaluative response is a misunderstood act at best and a power seeking action at worst.

But it shouldn't be so hard. It's a simple exercise if we understand its purpose and follow a few simple rukes.

1. No one cares about your opinion. As Seth Godin says:
I don't want to know how you feel, nor do I care if you would buy it, recommend it, or use it. You are not my market. You are not my focus group. What I want instead of your opinion is your analysis.
Analysis being the most important word in his explanation.
Analysis is a lot harder than opinion because everyone is entitled to his or her own taste (regardless of how skewed it might be). A faulty analysis, however, is easy to dismantle.
The only people entitled to give feedback based just on their opinion are the real kick ass, ninjas of creativity, 10-Lions-on-shelf creatives directors. Because sometimes all the years of experience and all your knowledge and all the power of your creative mind can't even help you to see what's missing in an idea, but your gut tells you that something is missing. But notice that this amendment applies to 30 people in the entire world. The rest of us mortals need to bring more to the feedback table than just our opinion. Which leads to the second point.

2. Say the right thing at the right time. Also from Godin:
try to figure out what sort of feedback will have the most positive effect on the final outcome, and contribute it now.
I've seen way too many times how good ideas with lots of potential are dismissed because negative comments are made before all angles have been explored.
The creative process has stages because ideas have a life cycle. Knowing that cycle is essential for people to understand what to expect at different times of the process.

2. The bigger the power the bigger the responsibility.
Creative ideas are easy to pick on. Its easy to look at what's missing, to search for weaknesses, to see the holes. Its easy believe me. Everybody can tell you, based on their opinion, that anything could be better or different. The harder thing to do is to add value to the idea.
The way I see it, either way you choose, you are empowered to kill or to give life.
And that's a lot of power resting on a few words.
And a big responsibility.

4. I link to link to link.
Humans imitate. That's what is happening in the deeper layers or our brain. When we see someone building on an idea, we imitate that behavior. Soon, an entire table is adding and providing value. Next thing you know, the Ipod or Twitter or RED is born.
People are attracted to creativity. There is something about being part of something magical like ideas and innovation.
I think this is the reason you tend to find creative people in groups. Very few times you'll see creativity happening in isolation.

5. Try on my shoes.
To really help me with your feedback you need to see thing from my side. Understand my goals and help me reach them.
Probably this is the number one reason why the feedback creatives receive form other departments is so far away from what we are looking for or need.
Other departments have different goals. Dave Trott talks about it in his blog.
I believe that agencies where everybody knows the ultimate goal, work better, communicate better and do better work.
When it comes to creative feedback, the reference should be creativity and the goal to make the idea better and more creative.

Ultimately, good, relevant, value adding feedback is not something that everybody can master. Mainly because to provide a good analysis, you need to do a good internal analysis and not everybody spends the time nor everybody is qualify to do it.

One final point that is important in my opinion is that when looking for the right feedback, one needs to ask the right people. Find the people who cares and understands and you'll receive good feedback.

Feedback is important to grow, please share yours with me. I'll appreciate it very much.

1 comment:

  1. a great pre follow up done in 2006, http://lifeinthemiddle.typepad.co.uk/life_in_the_middle/2006/10/evaluating_and_.html