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Why Most Feedback Sucks

25 September 2008


One of my elders sent me the link to an article by Scott H. Young.  It is primarily a productivity and business site, but the article is spot-on. 

He directs it toward product development, improvement, pricing, etc. but it is equally true of preaching and church leadership. 

Here is how he begins…

Getting better at anything requires feedback, that’s obvious.  But what is often more important is selectively ignoring most of the feedback you receive.  If you’re basing your decisions entirely on a comment by one person, you’re probably going to make a mistake.

Although it may seem like arrogance, I think following your own intuition and reasoning before the suggestions of other people is a much safer strategy.  Feedback can be helpful, but only after it’s been through a heavy washing of skepticism, so what you’re told matches what you experience.

He goes on to explain:

  • People don’t know what they want (people usually can’t tell you what they want more between what you have now and all the hypothetical improvements you could make)
  • Feedback Never Comes from an Unbiased Sample (most feedback is not the result of formal studies with rigorous techniques and random samples representative of the entire group)
  • Other People Can’t Speak for Your Motives (Feedback represents the perspective of the advice giver, not the advice receiver.  Even when people don’t have ulterior motives, they can rarely see through their own position to give advice best suited for you.
  • Although you may not have as much experience as the advice giver, you do have one advantage, you’re you.  You will always have access to your own perspective when trying to solve your problems, something often missing in feedback.)

  • People Have Split Personalities (Drinking, lust, anger, fear, enthusiasm all make different people out of us, and those people won’t give the same feedback.
  • If you’re asking for feedback, make sure your asking from a person who is in the same state as when their opinion will matter.)

Find the full article here.

I found it particularly encouraging.

Congreg Response, Evaluation

2 Comments to “Why Most Feedback Sucks”

  1. Hi Cal,
    I’ve always felt your “gut” never lies. It may occasionally make a mistake but is fundamentally reliable. It’s not arrogance, it’s the experience signaling you.
    I haven’t sent you a note in a while.
    Take care.

  2. My gut tells me that when you comment it’s a good thing. Thanks for weighing in.

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