Getting feedback – 7 obstacles and how to overcome them

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getting feedback

1. Frequency

A common obstacle in getting feedback is making it into a routine. This is usually due to the following 6 obstacles. If you get a grip on those, getting feedback will be fun, seem purposeful and won’t feel like an overwhelming task on your to-do list.

My own way of integrating feedback in my daily tasks of designing, writing copy and ideating is to ask someone around me for feedback, whenever I am asking myself what I could do to improve the thing I’m working on. When you’re asking yourself, ask someone else. And make it a 30 second thing, so it seamlessly fits into every working situation and doesn’t have to be scheduled in order to happen.

2. Lacking culture

Got other, more important, tasks to do today? Or perhaps your team doesn’t acknowledge the value of feedback? Instead of waiting around for everyone else to catch up with the rest of the world, you start the evangelism of the benefits of feedback. It’s not a fad. It’s a core part of creating a commercial product. So start nurturing a culture today, where feedback isn’t a monthly screening of your film, the playtesting in the spring or something that will flow in when your web service goes live, but a cornerstone of your creative process.

If feedback in your work culture is dominated by a harsh, non constructive tone encourage your boss to write an explicit set of guidelines on how to give and receive feedback. Why be strategic about everything else, and not this?

3. You know better, why involve anyone else?

This is a bad position. Art is self-expressive, but if you’re creating a commercial project, you are catering to an audience and their needs and desires, not your own. Add 2 and 2, if you want to be successful, you need to test your product, to see if what you created resonates with them. This doesn’t mean that they have the sway and you’re to follow everything the crowd says — it’s a trial and fail where you use your expertise cleverly in conjunction with their expertise in their own wishes for a product of your type.

4. People around you lack legitimacy

Many tend to believe that you need a university degree in a skill in order to give useful feedback. That a logo designer should get feedback from other logo designers. That laymen people lack legitimacy. Sure, if you wish to get feedback on a technical term, your colleagues will be able to give professional feedback. And that’s very useful. But more often than not, what you are producing, it be a film, a game, a visuel identity or a business idea, has an intended audience. They are the receivers of your product, and will be the final judges — everything else is just boosting your arsenal, not knowing what to aim for.

5. It’s intimidating

Yes, you’re exposing your design and thus also yourself and your skills. A tip is to detach yourself from your design — you’re not the sum of your designs, and definitely not in their raw form. People are commenting on ideas that are coming together, and the sooner and with more frequency you seek feedback, the less attached to your design you will become, which in turn makes it less intimidating. I’ve learned this by experience, fighting my own vanity and asking for feedback daily, even though I’m not satisfied with my design in its current imperfect state.

6. No one’s around

Many find that feedback in person is more rewarding — work in a co-working space, get up from your chair and ask people around you for a 2 minute feedback session and offer them one in return. You’ll start to see an upward spiral eventually, where everyone mutually benefits. You’re not the only one who wants feedback in your office. If, really, no one’s around, luckily there are a lot of online resources for getting feedback.

7. Lacking resources

Feedback shouldn’t be deprioritized because there isn’t “enough time”. Unless you’re in the final sprint of your project, your product will increase its chance of succes by being in contact with more people, especially end users. Feedback is not a cash sink. It’s a key process in the foundation of generating revenue. Feedback is crucial, even in artistic projects, and showing your process can benefit you in many ways, also economically.

Practice this mindset and you’ll start seeing results in both your feedback culture and the quality of your products. Stay tuned for next week’s post, where I’ll address the obstacles in giving feedback, and, of course, how to overcome it.

Got any feedback? Put em in the comments below.