Category Archives: What I learned

Lowering the Barrier to Getting Session Feedback

While participants in today’s Lean Startup workshop are on break, I decided to create, what I hope, will be a more effective way to get feedback about the session.

Last week in a session with 40 people, 7 left feedback using the ‘feedback wall’ that was posted beside the door despite numerous reminders.  At the next session with 18 people, 3 left verbal feedback and nothing on the ‘feedback wall’.   1 person from the second session filled out the follow-up survey I sent out.  I noticed during LESS 2012 that a small minority had filled out the feedback stickies on the feedback wall.

My gut says people enjoyed the sessions based on verbal feedback but I still wanted to do some type of experiment because maybe I’m not so good at reminding people about the feedback wall or I’m not really good at explicitly asking for feedback.  I suppose it could be said that I’m not all that good so people are indifferent about giving feedback.  Either way, I wanted to try something new.

My Hypothesis: People are more likely to leave feedback if they don’t have to ‘remember’ to fill it out on their way out of the session on the feedback wall.  Using Net Promotor reduces any barrier to providing feedback because writing a number on a sticky is extremely low effort.

My Experiment:  Use net promotor with an optional comment, put the sticky where they are sitting and ask them to fill it out before the last exercise.

Explicit instructions on the screen

Blue stickies where they sit

Before the wrap-up I asked them to take two minutes and provide feedback.  Comments were optional, I at least wanted to track Net Promotor because I find that to be an effective metric.

The Results:

94% provided feedback (15/16).
93% of the people who provided feedback wrote a comment (14/15).
Net Promotor was 19.96%. (33% if I include the people who answered with an 8 1/2) **
% promotors – 20% (3 of 15)
% Detractors – .06% (1 of 15)

** net promotor calculates the percentage of promotors (those who answer 9 or 10) subtract the percentage of detractors (those who answer 6 or lower).  7 and 8 are thrown out and I didn’t include the two people who rated it “8 1/2″ as promotors, I threw those away too.

What I learned:

  • It’s ok to ask for feedback without being irritating.
  • dedicating time for feedback before the end of the session is a good idea because people don’t feel rushed to just write something down.
  • Providing explicit feedback time generates comments even though I was only after the NPS (comments are always good though)

I’ll try this again tomorrow and update this post with the results.

*** Updated, Nov 20 ***

I did this again today.  Here are the results:

100% provided feedback (19/19).
42% of the people who provided feedback wrote a comment (8/19).
Net Promotor was 21%.
% promotors – 31.5% (6 of 19)
% Detractors – 10.5% (2 of 19)

After I got feedback, I showed the participants my experiment because I wanted to show them that you don’t specifically have to apply “lean startup” to everything at work.  Use data to support decisions you make with your product or service.  I make mental notes about what I change from session to session and am using this feedback as way to see if the changes I’m making are working.  Ideally I’d write this stuff down but since I’m an Agile guy, I don’t believe in documentation.

Agile: 3 Years Later

I’m on the plane coming back from Agile Coach Camp in Montreal and realized it’ll be 3 years this week that I’ve been involved in the agile community.  Feels like it’s been a lifetime.

In the last 3 years I have learned more than I have in my entire 15 year career in IT and software. I cannot count the number of people who have helped me along the way and I won’t try naming them all lest I leave someone out.  Suffice it to say that I have had the pleasure of working with, and learning from, the best talent on the planet from programmer to testers to coaches and everyone in between.  Thanks to all of you.

My journey with Agile started when I was working in a company using Scrum.  I remember being excited that an opportunity at this company was going to allow me to use Scrum for a 1-2 month project from beginning to end.  A customer had wanted some new features done, I gathered up some high level requirements that I felt was good enough to get a rough estimate from and asked our resident scrum guy what to do next.  The client wanted some budget range to get approval for the project so I asked how we did that with scrum.  His reply was confusing:

agile doesn’t work that way.  You need to make some stories, we’ll point them and start building.  We’ll show them the work, get feedback and keep going until they’re happy.

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What I learned – February 2011 Edition

Even though February was a short month, the learning didn’t slow down!

  1. Visualizing your waste: I attended an intro to Kanban session and the presenter had an example task board showing a garbage can on it.  What a great idea to see how much waste you are creating!  Could be as simple as calculating the story points of waste vs story points delivered.  I haven’t implemented it but I see this as a really neat tool to spark conversations about why wasteful work is being done.  Could be cancelled work, could be work done too soon or wasted work for other reasons.    I haven’t tried this yet but really like the idea.
  2. Stating My Personal Bias: Being an “SP” I’m a free-thinker/feeler.  I don’t like process and am fine with chaos and generally think that most things business do to run their businesses is bullshit.  For example, I’m working on a project that “cannot start” until the BRD/SOW and other documents/processes are completed.  We’ve been working on it for a month already.  At another job I remember the Senior Manager of development freaking out to halt all work because their was no budget according to the Excel he was looking at.  Needless to say, we kept working because “we had to“.  I learned is that when I get on my soapbox I sound like an ass sometimes so I learned to state my personal bias about my disdain with this BS and communicate the fact I understand why these seemingly un-important items to me are important to others.  I actually mentioned to our CEO that I would do a better job of not taking jabs at these process things I don’t see any value in.  It’s just a downer.
  3. Low-touch coaching?  I don’t know what to call this one.  I learned from Alisson Weiss (who’s in my coaching circle) how to coach in real-time without saying a word.  Here’s an example, as a coach sometimes you notice that people in a position of power can deflate team members without even realizing it.  I’ve never felt I was good at handling those scenarios.  So Alison mentioned that I can talk to that person privately and work out a physical or visual clue to let them know I am observing the behaviour we talked about so they can self-correct while feeling safe.    For example, our CTO’s personality is direct which can cause team members to retract simply because the delivery of the message can come across as micro-managing.  We talked about this and agreed that during meetings, conversations if I was beside him, I’d simply touch his arm to let him know I’m observing that reaction from the team.

Happy to report I continued to ‘shut my mouth’ and remember people’s names so apparently when I learn new stuff most of the old stuff doesn’t fall out of my brain.  Plus I find blogging about this quite therapeutic.  I had a follow-up meeting with people I had meetings with in January and I was pleased that I remembered their names.  I also hosted a couple of lunch and learns, and I always do some type of simulation, so I remembered to shut up when co-workers came to conclusions I didn’t agree with.  Example, we did a session on Kanban and limited WIP and some people mentioned they didn’t get customer feedback fast enough.  A good point, however not the point I was trying to get across.  I wanted to get across the danger of having 38 projects in progress!  Some did get that message though, unfortunately we haven’t done anything about that yet.