I recently had a group of employees from one company who said their management was…
Sometimes people just write “awesome game!” or “I love the discussions”. Sometimes they just leave a smiley, or a blank note. But other participants have more specific feedback to share, such as “The slides contained too many quotes. Please use pictures!” or “Too much theory” or “More room for theory!” (Yes, I once received the last two at the same time.)
It appears the happiness door works well for me.
The method is very simple. You ask people to give you immediate feedback after a presentation, a training session, a workshop, a business meeting, a lap dance, or any other intellectual performance. You want that feedback quickly because in most people’s brains impressions dissolve faster than European credit ratings. You also want it soon so that you can act on the feedback and minimize the suffering caused by your embarrassing mistakes.
I take credit for inventing the happiness door earlier this year, and I have been calling it a feedback door for a while, which led to some confusion. Several trainers told me they had invented the “feedback door” years before me, but it turns out they didn’t do what I describe here. Usually people just collect optional feedback on a wall, a window, or a coffee machine. The crucial part of the happiness door is that it is a happiness index and a feedback door. Its purpose is to generate qualitative feedback (comments) and numerical feedback (ratings).
Happiness doors were successfully used at the ALE2011 and LESS2011 conferences. (In both cases I was unaware of the organizers’ brilliant strokes of thievery, until I saw the doors in action.) I noticed plenty of tweets and comments of people appreciating this way of collecting feedback by conference organizers, which is similar to the comments I receive from attendees of my courses.
Several things are important to consider for successful implementations of the happiness door:
Of course, there are different ways of collecting feedback. The happiness door is just the method that I prefer. Other options I’ve seen:
The happiness door combines the best of all feedback mechanisms I have seen being used. But you may put a note on my door saying "You're biased".
One interesting side-effect of this method is that it is reflexive. I am quite sure that the information radiator not only collects but also influences the feedback of participants. When people give negative feedback, it is likely that more people will do the same. And if the door only shows high ratings, it might make other people feel better.
And besides, many people appreciate an event even more when the approach to feedback is open and transparent. Just the fact that there is a happiness door means people are unlikely to put anything at the bottom of the door! This also saves them some strain in their backsides because nobody needs to bend over. And thus everyone is even happier.
Did you try the happiness/feedback door? Have you tried it in your organization, after a meeting or a presentation? Add your experiences and suggestions to this blog post. I might use it in upcoming books or articles.