I’ve been finding a lot of great information on feedback mechanisms lately, so I compiled it here. Seems to work out as four rough categories.
Talking to users (or customers) is incredibly helpful and informative. We’re finding value on the product side, proactively asking users for their opinions of our UI, features, notification and overall experience. At this stage, pretty much every piece of user feedback helps us improve our product.
But, we’re also finding value on the messaging side. For example, we found a thread of comments on Facebook about HubRunner, where WordPress experts communicated about our marketplace. They specifically pointed out their dislike of some of our marketing messaging, and we completely agreed with them. So, we improved it.
Another example involves working to engage a specific type of HubRunner user: the marketing consultant or firm. In this case, we are reaching out to individual marketing consultants and larger firms to discuss our marketplace, to give them access and see how they engage. These conversations are helping us shape the product use case for this class of user and, tangentially, the value proposition we can transform into marketing messaging.
We’re testing our hypothesis that partnerships will be an important part of HubRunner’s growth. The trick? We don’t know how partners will want to use HubRunner – we don’t know where they’ll find value. Of course, we have assumptions about how they’ll use it, but to test those assumptions we’re engaging in conversations with potential partners. The trick? We don’t tell them how they should use HubRunner. Instead, we ask them what sort of problems they need to solve, and then we’re exploring whether or not HubRunner can solve one … or two 🙂
It’s been really exciting to get positive feedback from our advisors – gratifying, and certainly emotionally helpful. But, we need some bad news, too. Michael Dearing has some great advice on this:
“Every big, good idea is going to be subjected to a devil’s advocate, who should be the smartest person you can find, whose job is to try to destroy the idea.”
(Another side note: in the video linked above, check out his comments on competition at 36m 31s)
Regarding team feedback, the video linked above includes a discussion of the marketplace approach to sourcing ideas internally, which seems to work well when blended with a “benevolent dictator” in the early days. One suggestion that pops up now and again (including in the video) is to pretend your company has failed, to discuss the reasons why it failed, and then address those issues preemptively, i.e., now.
My co-founder and I have been working together for nearly a decade, meaning we’ve been together longer than I’ve been with my wife. While we’ve certainly had our disagreements, how have we managed to work together for so long? In the same video, at 47m 07s, he discusses the critical phases of iterating and building business, and also check out this video about the “cognitive distortions of founders.”
To use a specific phrase of Micheal’s, as founders, we seem to “shock absorb each other.” Where one of us is thinking more conservatively, one of us may be thinking less conservatively. The balance can be insanely frustrating at times (which is where a longstanding working relationship built on trust comes in the handiest), but the balance between founders translates into a balanced product and a balanced organization.
The bottom line?
Being open to feedback isn’t enough. We have to aggressively seek it out, ask for it, and in some cases, specify the type of feedback we want.
Did we miss any critical feedback mechanisms? Please drop a comment to give us your…feedback.