How to Ask for Feedback

19 Sep

Yesterday, the summation of 48 hours of very hard work was a pitch competition at Lean Startup Machine, London. I talked about what my team members and I had learnt about TweetPivot and Lean Startup methodology. Unfortunately, we didn’t win; but we did learn an incredible amount. To continue learning I asked for some feedback from the judges. Here’re my recommendations for how to do this:

1. Don’t ask what they thought

If you ask someone this question you put them in a difficult position. The feedback they give depends on how well they know you, your mood, their mood and whether they think you’re just looking for a boost. 9 times out of 10 they’ll say what they think you want to hear.

2. Don’t ask if they have any negative feedback

This is better than #1 but you still present the person with the same dilemma. They are very likely to answer ‘No, it was wonderful’. You’ve learnt nothing.

3. Ask them, specifically, for negative feedback

Perfect. You’ve explicitly given them permission to give you negative feedback. You can’t control how damning they’re going to present this, however, but you’ve removed the risk from them. If they say ‘nothing’, challenge them.

Positive feedback’s great, but you’ll learn much more from honest, negative feedback.


Posted by on September 19, 2011 in Lean Startups


Tags: , , ,

2 responses to “How to Ask for Feedback

  1. Trevor Owens (@to2)

    September 20, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    Great post! I always go, “Hey Bob, I know we’re missing something here, does anything to seem out of place to you?”

    or I’ll say, “In the most blunt way possible please…”

    Glad you had a good time and learned!

  2. goodcoffeegoodcode

    September 21, 2011 at 7:34 am

    Thanks for the feedback Trevor. I still think asking “*does* anything seem out of place…” puts them in a difficult position. Asking “I know we’re missing something here, what is it?” gives them that explicit permission to tell us.


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