Teaches people to collaborate to make art.

We grew up labeled as smart which is good, but sometimes people forget to teach us things because they assume you already know it or can look it up yourself.

CaptainAwkward.com is about learning or re-learning stuff we think we "should" know, no shame about it.


People tell me their work feedback woes.

Managers: having to conform to HR feedback processes that are overly brittle. Or, the converse, there is no process.

Creators/Developers: "Looks good to me". This means they haven't had time to look at the work.

Peer reviewers: some people can't take any criticism. Some people are too nitpicky.

Dealing with Feedback

How she does feedback with her students. Listed the steps.

Ask the creators why do feedback? Make the work better.

Actually, the secret is an emotional component. Actually, there is significant benefit to the reviewers in how they create their own work.

You see your own work differently when you see how others respond to it.

How to do Feedback Better

Liz Lerman's Critical Response Process.

1. View the work. Work speaks for itself.

2. Audience describe what you observe without assigning a value judgement.

3. Audience talks about what's working

4. Creator: ask advance prepared questions

5. Audience: identify things that aren't working, with the author's consent.

This process forces people to slow down the process and look at the big picture before diving into the details.

Good Practices

Critique sessions happen at regular intervals, with advance notice, and a firm start and end time. It's not a pop quiz.

Structure and ground rules are agreed-upon and transparent.

Can be in-person meeting or online discussion.

No multitasking during the review. No hiding in your phone.

Have one person be responsible for facilitating the discussion.

Creators my introduce the work but not apologize for it. Nobody wants your shame spiral.

After work is presented, facilitator can give participants a few minutes to write down/type up their thoughts before anyone speaks.

If you're the creator, use those minutes when everyone is writing to generate and organize questions you have for the audience.

The goal of the session is to generate the todo list to carry the project forward.

If you are giving feedback...

If you could only five three notes, what would they be?

Focus on the work, and not the person or their individual performance or abilities.

Avoid, "That won't work because...". Instead, as them why they are doing it that way. Try to stay focused on the future, what needs to happen next.

If you raise a problem, try to also propose a solution.

Facilitators make it safe for people to say, "I don't know".

Is it true, is it necessary, is it kind.

What if it really stinks

Be brief, direct, and specific.

Shame and blame are performance killers.

If you're receiving feedback

Write it all down. Write it down even if you disagree.

If you feel yourself getting flustered or defensive, cut yourself slack, but also, stop talking.

If you're the moderator

Keep the discussion on time.

Amplifying the good quesions is a better strategy, than tamping down on the negative one.

Aftercare for Creators

After the session, take a break. Then refine the comments. Prioritize the feedback, do the easy stuff first.

If you need to discard the feedback item, you can make a better argument for doing so if you show you considered it.

Good feeedback doesn't just happen. It needs a structure.

The best possible outcome from a response session is for the maker to want to back to work. Liz Lerman

Thorough feedback is a gift of time and attention. It's an investment in the projects you make and in your development as a creator.