Negative feedback

I’ve collected some of the worst feedback we’ve received, mostly for stuff under my responsibility.

I have 2 guiding principles to parsing through feedback:

  1. Thank it. I generally take it quite to heart, but 99.99% of negative feedback isn’t ill-intent. The most negative comments result from deep frustration in my experience. Thanking feedback is important to acknowledge the other side, and is a way to extract more info.
  2. Own it. Most feedback comes from the consequences of decisions that have to be made. Negative feedback means that something that is important to a user or colleague got left out. If I’m convinced think that this wasn’t a big problem, I recognize that there are trade-offs and that I am comfortable with their consequences vs. the effort to improve it. Otherwise, I assume that we actually have failed and that it is important, and I work on a plan to get a fix.
  3. Close it. It’s important that every piece of feedback is closed and that everyone involved understands the final state. Will you fix something or maybe not? Why? In my experience, being a passive inbox of feedback and not closing the loop amplifies the negativity.

You will also get positive feedback, and that helps along the way!

Over time, if you do a retrospective, you can also get a pretty accurate picture of what organic system you have on your hands.