We often talk about feedback, it is a crucial aspect of agile. Feedback on our behaviour as team mates, feedback on our product by users, feedback on our approach as leaders. Yet so often when we hear people give feedback or we get feedback ourselves we find people are too polite to be honest, and this ends up with feedback like: “It was great” and “There’s nothing you need to improve”. This might make our ego’s feel great but it doesn’t actually help us grow.
Recently I have been working on a new conference submission with a new speaker Yogini Moodley. To help her get started presenting at conferences I’ve offered to co-speak with a workshop we’ve designed together based on work we’ve done together. We’ve submitted it to 2 conferences so far and it got turned down, so we know the submission needed some work. However, when we asked for feedback, lots of people just said “It looks great”.
So I decided to reach out to a friend Justin Kotze, an agile coach at Spotify, that knows me well, and knows that I really do want honest feedback.
He gave really useful feedback, that actually helped us improve the submission. So what does really useful feedback look like? Here it is, judge for yourself:
Title: Influencing an Agile Transition
The Feedback we got
I would likely have gone for the following kind of format for the outline.
Something obvious like, we all know agile transformations are difficult. we all know it’s even more difficult at large financial corporates. Some quote here either about influencing, corporate, or how agile is difficult
After feedback – how we changed the submission
Your Agile Transformation Superpower – INFLUENCE
Your large company has decided to go agile! YAY. Now what? How do you get thousands of people to start thinking and working in a different way, without being controlling?
It turns out the only person you can change, is yourself. This makes YOU the key to your company’s agile Transformation. The skill you need to master to have an impact is influence.
“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” Napoleon Hill
Join us for an interactive workshop to learn why influence is so critical in agile transformations, and to practice this important skill! We will share examples how we used this skill helping ABSA in their Agile Transition as both an internal employee (Yogini) and an external coach (Karen).
I’m sure you will agree that our submission is stronger and better thanks to the feedback. What I also love is that Justin put himself in the shoes of a conference attendee when reading it, and told us what he’s looking for when he does that, not a perspective we’d really thought of for this submission before because we were so focussed on getting accepted. We’ll find out for sure if the talk gets accepted this time.
So next time someone asks you for feedback: Trust that they can handle it, and be BRUTALLY honest. I promise they will thank you for it when they have grown as a result.
You can listen to Justin speak about Scrum and everything around it on the Scrum And Podcast (scrumand.co). Please support him, he’s an all round good agile guy!