Integrating Feedback

Day 282 Week 41 Q4 Tuesday, October 10, 2023

So, you have completed your book, business plan, podcast, composition, song or patent application. And now it is feedback time. How do you manage this? Are you defensive or grateful? Do you have a formal or an ad-hoc process? Have you ever asked anyone at all what they think? Or do you throw it over the wall and assume it is done?

Part of the creative process is converging on a final result, but these results are not always as final as you think. All creative acts occur within a larger context. There is a unique stakeholder community you have assembled. Did you do this in a perfunctory or loving manner? Do you hate or love feedback? Are you getting the most out of your feedback?

Feedback sometimes hurts. It can be political and bring you down, or it can be an adventure because you are learning and growing. It is a developmental process. This is a process that benefits from management. And much of this management is internal. You have to manage your reactions and try not to take every bit of feedback personally. You are not the same thing as your project. When your project has flaws, as all do initially and eventually, you also have flaws, but if your project needs work, that does not necessarily mean you need work.

Let’s face it: we and everything we do can be improved. And the only way is by being in a feedback loop with reality. An external reality. You will grow and develop if you stay inside your mind and your studio, lab, or office because you are a creative outlier. If you increase the size of the feedback loop to transcend yourself, you will learn different things—new things. Unexpected things. Some will be good. Some will hurt.

Anticipate this and welcome it, for we do our best learning when making mistakes, not when succeeding. Getting a little distance from a creative work or act provides perspective. We need to integrate multiple perspectives to get a handle on reality. We have to tolerate ambiguity. We must be secure enough to receive feedback and do something positive.

The minimum viable product is an example of this process of only being partially done at first release. Software developers know until many people have extremely exercised their code, it will be quite suboptimal. The iPhone 15 is a lot better than the iPhone 1. Sure, some old things are better than some new things, but change is part of every creative process.

Spend some time in advance thinking about the kinds of feedback you need, who to ask for it, and what you will do with it, and remember that those supplying the feedback are people.  What is in it for them?  They are doing you a favor.

Integrating feedback is a very important part of every creative process and not only for you.