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Feedback, Non-Feedback and Uncalled Feedback

by Vikas Hazrati on Apr 26, 2011 |

The importance of feedback in Agile development is paramount. Feedback is pretty much built into every aspect of the methodology ranging from unit tests, continuous integration, daily standup, retrospectives to end of sprint demos. In-spite of all this, are there still some feedback loops which remain incomplete?

Jurgen Apello, quoted Peter F Drucker, when he suggested that non-feedback is even more important than feedback.

Peter F. Drucker once wrote: even more important than your customers are your non-customers. Why are they not your customers? Likewise, even more important than feedback might be the non-feedback.

According to Jurgen, there are lot of people who would not like to talk, it is important to solicit feedback from this group as, it could change the feedback considerably.

Why are there only 10 feedback notes on the door, when there are 20 students in the course? Why are there only 11 Amazon reviews, while there are many more readers of the book? Why are there so few bugs being reported for our product?

According to Lisa Crispin, people learn in different ways and it is probably true that they might want to give feedback in different ways too. Lisa suggested that people should be encouraged to give feedback in a mechanism that they are comfortable with. This might be any of one-on-one, discussion, drawing etc.

Hence, teams would need to work hard to identify the avenues to convert non-feedback into feedback and also make sure that they can keep refining the non-feedback to feedback loop on an ongoing basis.

Marc Löffler suggested that apart from giving feedback when asked for, people (especially team members) should give feedback as soon as they see something which is not correct. He suggested that though it is difficult at times to give honest uncalled feedback but eventually people are thankful for the courage that you display in giving feedback and they appreciate your concern.

According to Marc,

If you are displeased, unsatisfied or annoyed just open your mouth and talk. Nobody will hit you (at least most of them) for telling them what you have observed. In most cases, they will be happy that at least one person was courageous enough to tell them the simple truth.

How often do you see uncalled feedback and solicit non-feedback in your team?

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