Want to progress faster? Get feedback!
Feedback is essential to making progress on your goals. We talked about how important immediate feedback was for the high-performance state of flow. It is nearly impossible to improve without feedback. It’s like learning to play an instrument without hearing the sound it makes. There are countless examples of the power of feedback. Studies have found that people who weigh themselves regularly lose more weight (New advice for weight loss: Get on the scale every day). Gartner found that companies that are data driven, getting feedback about their products continually from users, have 2x the market capitalization of their non-data driven counterparts. The concepts of lean startup are driven by a build-measure-learn feedback loop. Lean startup allows startups to test market fit quickly and adjust continually. Another example of feedback is in real-time systems. The reason an autopilot works on a car or a plane is that its sense and control loop runs fast enough to maneuver the vehicle.
One of the most important things in collecting feedback is deciding what metrics are important. The key is finding metrics that are actionable. If you do nothing different, then why collect the data? Said another way, if you don’t know what to do with the data, don’t collect it. I find it best to have rules for my metrics, like “if this happens, then do that.” If you can’t think of a rule, then you are probably not collecting the right thing.
Another important skill for getting feedback is seeking it from others. That can be your customers, your mentors, or anybody. A very common customer metric is the Net Promoter Score (NPS), which measures how likely your customers would recommend a product to others. Research has found that NPS is the best indicator of growth trend. Tools like Survey Monkey make it easy to create online surveys. Richard Branson is famous for seeking feedback and advice from his employees. He simply says, “I am not sure; what do you think?” That empowers his employees to engage and make a difference. The fastest way to end candid feedback is to argue or discredit the feedback. When you request and get feedback, there are only three acceptable responses:
- Tell me more.
- Please give me another example.
- Thank you.
So, design feedback loops for your goals and always be gracious to those generous enough to give you their feedback.