Collecting feedback is one of the most crucial steps in evaluating and developing new ideas. We often become so enthusiastic about our own ideas that it can be difficult to see their flaws and weaknesses. Therefore, we need other people to help us look more closely at our ideas and evaluate them critically.
Still, not all feedback is trustworthy or useful. Everyone evaluates the idea from his or her own perspective and has different beliefs, emotions, and opinions regarding it. That is why you want to ask for feedback from several people that have the capability to push you forward. But how do you recognize the right kind of people that can bring value with their opinions?
Here is a list of six characteristics you should take into consideration:
1) The person is a potential client or a fellow creator
The feasibility of your idea is often best evaluated by those who would consume it (potential clients) or who are trying to solve the same problems as you are (fellow creators), because they have the most practical know-how regarding your idea. After all, the value is not created by the product, it is created by the client.
2) The person has enough knowledge on the relevant field/topic
In relation to the first point, you want to make sure that the person has enough background knowledge regarding your idea. If you are, for example, an English teacher who wants to create a new method for online learning, it does not necessarily make sense to ask an opinion from another teacher who has never done an online course in their life, because he or she would not have enough insight on it.
3) The person has an open mindset and outside perspective
The downside of having a lot of experience in a certain field is that we often become blind to the existing structures, which makes it difficult to see the potential of new ways of doing things. That is why you want to make sure that your feedback-giver still has an open mindset for new ideas and that he or she has not been very closely involved in your development process.
4) The person is able to think critically and make suggestions
This is one of the fundamentals of giving feedback, but I want to add it here anyway: you want to make sure that the person is able to critically evaluate your idea and make suggestions regarding it. One way to make sure of this is to ask for feedback on specific aspects with open-ended questions or provide different options and ask what the person prefers. After all, “This is okay” types of feedback usually do not get you very far in improving the different aspects of your idea.
5) The person is able to be honest with you
All the previous points are useless if the person is not able to be honest with you. That is why you want to make sure that the person feels that they can give you honest or even harsh feedback without getting penalized for their openness and that they have the courage to do so. You do not want to be the emperor with no clothes, right?
6) The person is willing to help you
In addition to listening to the opinions of those who are capable of helping you, you want to make sure they are willing to do so. Potential reasons why the person would NOT be willing to help you are usually A) They do not have the time or interest in helping you (especially if they get feedback requests all the time) or B) They have something personal at stake which prevents them from helping you. That is why you want to make sure the person has the time and motivation to help you and that he or she is in a neutral position regarding your idea.
All in all, there are many factors that you should take into account when you are considering which opinions you should value more than the others, and the process of finding the right people is not always smooth. Hopefully, this list of characteristics will make the task a bit easier.
Now I would like to hear your opinion. What do you think about the list? Are there some characteristics you would add here or some you think are not relevant? Share your thoughts on the comments below!
P.s. If you like to learn more about how the develop new ideas, I warmly recommend to read Adam Grant’s Originals