Feedback Fallacy

Contrarian thoughts by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall in their Harvard Business Review article "The Feedback Fallacy" (Mar-Apr 2019):

Underpinning the current conviction that feedback is an unalloyed good are three theories that we in the business world commonly accept as truths. The first is that other people are more aware than you are of your weaknesses, and that the best way to help you, therefore, is for them to show you what you cannot see for yourself. We can call this our theory of the source of truth. You do not realize that your suit is shabby, that your presentation is boring, or that your voice is grating, so it is up to your colleagues to tell you as plainly as possible "where you stand." If they didn't, you would never know, and this would be bad.

The second belief is that the process of learning is like filling up an empty vessel: You lack certain abilities you need to acquire, so your colleagues should teach them to you. We can call this our theory of learning. If you're in sales, how can you possibly close deals if you don't learn the competency of "mirroring and matching" the prospect? If you're a teacher, how can you improve if you don't learn and practice the steps in the latest team-teaching technique or "flipped classroom" format? The thought is that you can't—and that you need feedback to develop the skills you're missing.

And the third belief is that great performance is universal, analyzable, and describable, and that once defined, it can be transferred from one person to another, regardless of who each individual is. Hence you can, with feedback about what excellence looks like, understand where you fall short of this ideal and then strive to remedy your shortcomings. We can call this our theory of excellence. If you're a manager, your boss might show you the company's supervisor-behaviors model, hold you up against it, and tell you what you need to do to more closely hew to it. If you aspire to lead, your firm might use a 360-degree feedback tool to measure you against its predefined leadership competencies and then suggest various courses or experiences that will enable you to acquire the competencies that your results indicate you lack.

... interesting ideas, perhaps exaggerated, perhaps partially correct. Important in any case to recognize and model one's own theories of:

(cf Fifth Disciplinarians (2000-09-10), Invisible Instabilities (2001-02-24), Pursuit of Excellence (2002-02-22), Fearless Leaders (2003-08-27), How to Win Friends and Influence People (2008-05-17), Virtuosic (2009-11-10), Christensen on Humility (2010-09-03), Feedback Loops and Delay Lines (2010-11-10), How to Master Any Game (2016-02-18), Nine Beliefs for Success (2018-03-02), Do Something Else (2018-07-09), Amateurs v Professionals (2018-11-02), ...) - ^z - 2019-03-19