Review of Learning, Part 4: Quality Feedback and Facilitation

Post date: Oct 24, 2014 3:29:15 PM

Importance of Quality Feedback and Facilitation

Goodwin and Miller (2012) suggest that vague feedback has negative effects, resulting in uncertainty, decreased motivation, and diminished learning for individuals. In referencing Wiliam (2011) they state that the best feedback is clear, with specific guidance on how to improve. They also suggest that feedback provided weeks after completion of a long-since-forgotten unit or assignment presents little opportunity for learning.

I find this congruent with my own views on feedback, for both individuals and teams. For teams, a facilitator, or perhaps a servant leader as Greenleaf (1977) presents, can help to bring teams together, to discuss in an open and constructive manner any issues present in the work or the team.

During a recent Leadership and Management course I have been introduced to the BOCA model for providing positive and constructive feedback. Behaviour, Outcome, Consequences, Action, provides a method for structuring feedback using an outcomes-based analysis of the situation. I’ve found this technique helpful when considering what feedback is appropriate, and what I want to communicate.

Derby et al (2006) define a retrospective as a special meeting where teams gathers to inspect and adapt their methods and teamwork, after completing an increment of work. In this meeting, the whole team has an opportunity to learn and generate actions for improvement frequently and in a timely manner.

More traditional project methodologies leave the lessons learned reports or postmortem step to the project end. The OGC (2009) has capturing the lessons resulting from a project and completing a Lessons Learned Report, as part of the project closure stage. In my opinion this is too late, it does not provide timely feedback to the teams involved or the wider organisation they are part of.

The importance of specific and timely feedback is as true for groups as it is for individuals, and well facilitated retrospectives can help teams to improve.

Key points:

  • Feedback should be specific and timely.

  • Use outcome-based analysis to ensure clarity and purpose of feedback.

  • Frequent facilitated retrospectives, to help teams to improve.


Goodwin and Miller (2012), Good Feedback Is Targeted, Specific, Timely. Educational leadership

Derby, E., Larsen, D., & Schwaber, K. (2006). Agile retrospectives: Making good teams great. Raleigh, NC, Dallas, TX: Pragmatic Bookshelf.