Giving Great Feedback
“An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.” Oscar Wilde
Last we delved into the concept of expressing & evaluating ideas. However, of equal importance is the process we use to provide feedback on creative work to our agency partners.
Let’s work through each step in the process of giving effective feedback – which starts with the agency handing over the Idea Catcher. For an outline of the Idea Catcher refer to ideas vs executions
1. Applaud the effort
Following the baton change, the first step is to applaud and acknowledge the time, effort and passion that the agency has put into the work.
(Most) Our agencies aren’t expecting a standing ovation, just a simple “thank you” for the blood, sweat and tears that goes into most major presentations before we dive into interrogation mode.
2. Seek to Understand
Speaking of interrogation, the next stage involves asking questions of the agency to ensure we understand what’s been presented – the Idea Catcher should be central to this Q&A session, facilitated by project Owner. It is imperative that we avoid judgement at this stage.
3. Verbalise your gut feeling
Based on this understanding, we can move onto verbalising our “gut feel” about the idea and executions that have been presented. In line with the principle of nurturing, each member of the team should get an opportunity to express their thoughts, starting with the most junior person in the room through to the most senior.
Following this, the brief owner should summarise the group thoughts. Importantly, these thoughts are our individual and collective feelings not feedback (instinctive reactions, not insightful commentary). To enable this, focus on the Idea and Executions separately to tease out the perspectives. It gives the agency a sense of where our heads are at having seen the concepts for the first time but they are neither definitive nor binding. It may come as a surprise but on the whole our agencies don’t expect or necessarily want immediate stop/go feedback. What is important to them is getting considered, aligned and actionable feedback within a reasonable time frame following the initial presentation.
Following this, the brief owner should summarise the group thoughts and make one of the following calls:
All team members believe the idea delivers against the task in a compelling way and should be presented to the Decision Maker.
Action: Proceed to Step 6, providing detailed written feedback on what (if anything) needs to be worked on prior to the Decision Maker presentation.
For example, we might be aligned around the idea but some of the executions may need to be re-worked.
All team members believe that the idea doesn’t deliver against the task in a compelling way and a new idea is required.
Action: Proceed to Step 6, providing detailed written feedback on why the idea doesn’t deliver against the task so learning’s can be built into the next round of creative.
As a watchout, make sure we’re rejecting the idea not the executions.
5. Simmer Overnight
The group is undecided on whether the idea delivers against the task in a compelling way.
We should sleep on what’s been presented overnight before regrouping as soon as possible the next day to get alignment amongst the team.
Importantly, making a decision to simmer shouldn’t be seen as a “cop out”. If we’re undecided about an idea there’s usually a reason why that’s worth exploring.
Sometimes this might just be the originality or uniqueness of the idea that makes us feel uncomfortable – which is often an indication that we’ve got a potentially powerful idea.
However, it might also be that the idea falls short against one of the key questions on the Idea Evaluation Checklist.
It may come as a surprise but on the whole our agencies don’t expect or necessarily want immediate stop/go feedback. What is important to them is getting considered, aligned and actionable feedback within a reasonable time frame.
6. Align & Articulate
Regardless of the call that’s been made, the project Owner should put the teams definitive feedback in writing and organise a time to take the agency through it in person.
In the case of major campaigns involving Advertising and Media, this definitive feedback would be a call on whether the team is happy for the work to be presented to the Decision Maker.
At a minimum, we have made a commitment that our agencies will receive written feedback on their work within three working days of the initial presentation.
Providing effective feedback through the steps outlined above is one of the brief Owners key responsibilities.
The Effective Feedback Checklist is shown above.
Although we haven’t discussed the first question on the checklist, it is critical that we take the time to explain the process and it’s intent to our agencies up front.