Thursday, 23 April 2009

VPEC-T when preparing Feedback

I have a collegue and friend that I wanted to give some "constructive feedback" to. I remembered the good old saying that you need to respect the one you give feedback to. And then Twitter-friend Richard Veryard reminded me that receiver needs to trust me.

Trust... That is one of the letters in VPEC-T. Maybe think through them all, I thought. And here are some questions that came up:

V- Value: Why do I care? Will my friend care? What am I trying to achieve with this feedback. What I am hoping that my friend will do with the feedback? How do I value our friendship? What are our common values, what do we share? Will value increase, e.g. will our friendship grow? Will I grow? Will he grow?

P - Policies: Are there any rules? Like, forbidden words when giving feedback to this friend. Any taboos I can think of? And restrictions on what feedback I can give? What would be out-of-bound? What situations could be where feedback is not welcome, i.e. friend doing something specific or having a bad day. What signals should make me stop the feedback process? In short: the rules and playground!

E - Event: What should trigger the feedback? Should I wait for a specific time? Or action from the friend that triggers the feedback? Should I plan the feedback - set up formal meeting? How should the feedback session start? Planned or spontaneous? Wait for right moment?

C - Content: What should be included in the feedback? How to give the feedback? As a story? In a dialogue form? Provide evidence? Draw on napkins? Illustrate in other ways? How long? Will it sound meaningful? Make sense? Be constructive? Should it be delivered in multiple sessions? Body language to use?

- Paus: just relaxing a let the questions above form answers. Making notes on a pad...

T - Trust: Ok. Do I trust and respect my friend? Does he trust me? If I go along with this would we build trust? Or break? Will the setup given for this feedback be serious? Having answered all the questions above - do I trust myself doing this?

Having the VPEC-T letters I managed to create structure for myself and rethink lot of this feedback process. I really do care for this friend -and this thinking made me rethink - and rethink again (!) - and now I feel more comfortable about how to deliver the feedback.

VPEC-T is not magic or a cure for everything. But it sure helped this time. And I am sure that there are plenty other situations too where VPEC-T will make a difference. Suggestions?


  1. I think there is an important question of timing. Sometimes my friend isn't (yet) ready to receive my feedback. Is that what you mean by pause?

    Sometimes I think it best to wait until I'm asked, rather than proffer unsolicited help/consultancy. I guess that's a policy that references some event.

    In some organizations, there is a semi-formal structure of feedback-giving, called "review meetings" or whatever. This is a framing policy that should make some kinds of feedback easier.

    Finally, there is the question of why I WANT to give feedback - where are MY values here? We all know that even constructive feedback can sometimes carry too much ego, which interferes with the transference (using the term "transference" in the psychotherapeutic sense).

  2. Thanks! Great thinking that I tried to capture. But you did a better job. We both have the "why" in the value-section. And I tried to get the "timing" and "pick-a-place-and-date" in the Event.

    The pause in my text was a period of contemplation. To re-think WHY I want to give feedback. And if the setup of feedback would work.

    The "why" is very important!

  3. About 'Pause' - maybe the hyphen (-) in VPEC-T has deeper meaning? And perhaps this also relates to the Slow Movement ( ) in the sense of considered dialogue (and requirements specification in an IS context). Perhaps avoiding - “Fools Rush In (Where Angels Fear to Tread”?