Landing Feedback

Learning from Failure

We are running hard with a smart, ambitious team of staff, associates, partners and clients. We are breaking things and running into obstacles. Whilst we’re making huge amounts of progress (2 product launches and system go lives in 8 weeks) it is tough work.

Our singular value of courage keeps getting put to the test and challenged. When the going gets tough its easy to pull the foot off the gas, check in with everyone and make sure no one’s getting hurt or upset. yet we don’t. We keep the foot down and hold everyone to account on being courageous.

A big part of being courageous is feedback. Putting your hand up and being heard, listening to the response and getting everyone on the bus and moving forward. 

Courage requires radical candour but that candour only works within boundaries or it can lead to some pretty bad behaviour that is destructive. 

I got this all badly wrong on a couple of instances over the last couple of weeks that I think I’ve learnt from. Fortunately the organisation has been strong enough to get us and me back on track.

I lost my rag during a product showcase with a client. The team were showing the latest developments of a new business onboarding flow for a digital product. I was asked to onboard Moroku onto the platform as a busienss, entering private director and company data live on a zoom call with a bunch of people on the call. I was not briefed that this was going to happen, had no idea where it was going to go, whether it would succeeed or not, felt rail roaded and was very uncomfirtable sharing the the confidential data, in the clear, on the video call. I lost it. There had been a lot going on duringthe week and I wasnt at my best and all of this ended up in an emotional explosion of my unhappiness. 

Our CTO, Michael, desperately tried to calm me down, which served only to make me dig my heels in more and become more angry that I wasnt being heard. 

Eventually we agreed to take it off line, set the experiment up properly and come back to it a week later. We did and it all worked amazingly well.

In the mean time we had a new problem – my explosion which was not received well as I received feedback that I had been unprofessional and destructive. What followed were some tough conversations and some significant climbing out of the trees by myself. Both sets of feedback were important , mine to the team, and their’s back to me . Feedback is a vital part of living courageously. It allows us to leverage the full potential of our human capital, capital that is smart and demanding . Doing so well rquires some consciousness and mindfulness. Mindless feedback is likely to be very dangerous.

In parallel a friend had given me a copy of Reed Hasting’s No Rules, Rules. In it Reed and Erin Meyer talk about the importance of building talent density, the idea of high perofmance teams , constantly weeding out those that dont fit or perform, the bad apples. They also provide some great rules around accountability and feedback that would have really helped above and are increadibly useful for those seeking to move fast and get results, encouraging lots of feedback but of the right quality.


Give feedback aimed at assisting the company or the individual and not the ego.  I lost it but wasn’t clear on what would have been better, leaving the team confused. Being of assitance requires the feedback to include what better looks like and why it would help. Rather than just losing it, I should have said, this priocess is breaking some confidentiality rules and I feel rail roaded. Can you please go away and run this experiment in a way that is private , removes the unknowns and allows you to showcase the end result.


Be really clear on what actions or change you would ask the persone receivingthe feedback to take on


As the person receiving the feedback, encourage it, appreciate it, get excited. Do the opposite of what your ego will automatically respond with. This is perhaps thge toughest part. Our egos don’t like fedback and want to shut it down. butlistening out for feedback is where so much of our growth appears. It hard, because it never arrives when you’re ready fpor it and requires a constant state of awareness, mindfullness, so that when it turns up , we are conditioned not to arc up, but to breathe and tell oursleves that some growth magic may be about to unfold. 


On receipt of the feedback it is the agency of the receiver to choose to accept or reject the feedback. As the giver , there should be no conditionality around what the recipient does with it.


There is no time like the present for feedback. If we wait for the perfect momnent it will never appear and the message may get diluted. Of course it may take us time to think about the feedback and find the assistiveness, actions and so on, but get there as fast as you can . Use the framework to shape it up correctly so that it does assist and is actionable  and therefore wellmeaning and conscious. 


Whilst anytime is good to give feedback, it might not be the right time to receive feedback. Maybe something horrific or important is happening for the recipient and now just isn’t a good time. Asking for feedback checks that the recipient is good for it right now and ready for a potentially ego denting conversation. Maybe they’d like time to prepare or settle and another time is good. Asking for permission gives control to the recipient and sets the scene for a productive conversation. 


If I had been more thoughtful the showcase would have gone a whole lot better. Fortunately the team stood up to being courageous and got us back on the road and left me with some growth. The realtime feedback in the session, from me to them, propelled us forward as did theirs to me afterwards . The openess to feedback feeds a culture that is courageoues and  where people feel supported to stand up and be heard. I hope.