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Want Great Feedback? Use "Stop, Start, Continue"

An easy way to get to the info you really need...

I just volunteered at The Nantucket Project. The line-up was AWESOME! The organizers did a super job in attracting a wonderful variety of presenters who challenged the audience to think. More.

And then I received the request for feedback, as a volunteer. And I will definitely do it, because, there is always an opportunity to improve... But it makes me wonder... We can all think about that painful questions that we hear after an event, workshop, party, program. "What feedback do you have to make it better?"

Do they really want my criticism? Is it career limiting to say what I feel? Are you sure you don't want to just hear how great it was?

Here is a GREAT way to open up discussion, and get valuable, useful feedback.

Stop - Start - Continue

The concept is simple, and the implementation is just as simple. Ask those whose feedback you value to categorize their feedback as either

"stop" - it didn't work, or may not be useful in the future
"start" - a new idea that wasn't used, but could be helpful
"continue" - a validation of what worked, and should be continued

Quite simply, all this does is get to asking these three questions: What do we need to start doing? What do we need to stop doing? What do we need to continue doing?

Soliciting this feedback can be done in many ways.

Index cards: This is my favorite. I've used pink, green, and blue index cards, and asked that each feedback idea be placed on one of the cards. Red for stop, green for start, blue for continue. I ask every person to write at least one on each card. These can be collected and discussed anonymously, or participants can just read from their cards. Makes it easy to collect after the debrief session too.

Surveys: You can do the same with paper or online surveys.

Flip charting: Use three separate pages and record the stop, start and continue ideas on separate pages.

The "stop" part is really valuable. I've found it's easy to keep adding new tasks while continuing to do the old tasks. It's much, much harder to identify those things we should stop doing. We can't continue to pile more and more work on people and expect them to perform at consistently high levels. There is only so much time to accomplish the work at hand.