Feedback is tough.

Feedback is tough.
As part of the first edition of the Journal of the Social Age, a group of people volunteered to read and give feedback on submissions, as part of a peer review process.
On paper, feedback should work, it’s pretty straightforward: read something and give your opinion. But there is no better way to get a glimpse into how subjective it is, both the giving and the receiving, than to ask people to do it.

I was up front about the fact that this was an experiment, that we were attempting to co-create a collection of thoughts from the Twitter learning community. The words are one thing though. They don’t cover other people’s needs or expectations. That kind of disclaimer is a safety net to catch you when something goes wrong, when someone’s expectations fail to be met.

During the first review team meeting, I learned that people want criteria, want a way to assess work. During the first reading, I learned how different my review style was to my peers. Some focused on mechanics. Others on format. During the critical friendship period I learned how this feedback relationship does not just materialize (except when we’re lucky) and that each person’s notion of it is different. Each person’s evaluation of its success is different.

The idea of feedback, feedback in its most idealised form, is aspirational. The reality I found is that you have to put as much thought into who will read what, who will give feedback as you do into who to hire, who to choose for your team. Personal style matters, and when it’s not there things can backfire.

I have a to do list for next time, because I’m not giving up. The negative outcomes of this experience are as valuable as the positive ones, and both inform my learning and ideas about how to ‘do’ the next edition.

The reason I don’t want to give up is because I see this project as a way to show what cocreation can yield. What can emerge when people are put in each other’s way.

Thanks @eGeeking for inspiring this post with your own story!

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