Going through the motions.

Too often, we go through the motions of asking for feedback from stakeholders and constituents.

I’m glad to report that nearly every campus-wide project or initiative that I’m familiar with included an up-front discussion about giving “everyone” the chance to express opinions and preferences. Sadly, too often, the implied or overtly stated comments during these conversations about involving the campus are:

  • We can do a web survey. I guess we need to be able to say that we gave everyone a chance to provide feedback.
  • Now that our committee has decided what we’re going to do, we’d like to go ahead and ask people what they think.
  • Most people don’t have the expertise to give us suggestions and ideas that are useful.

Okay, even the most expert communicators are sometimes frustrated by feedback. But we also know that somebody might just submit a great idea or offer a much-needed suggestion.

I was cured of any occasional skepticim about the quality of feedback during the W&M web redesign project. After weeks and weeks of reviewing home page designs with a small committee of talented designers and skilled communicators, we unveiled a final mockup for the new W&M Home page. I remember getting an email from a faculty member – she asked if we might consider including a link to our People Search on the new design (Directory in the tactical navigation bar). Duh! – how did we all miss that? And, Man! – she saved us some future embarrassment.

IMHO, soliciting feedback is not to be skipped and not to be undervalued. Broadly soliciting ideas and suggestions is also a way to build consensus among your constituencies; but that’s the topic for a future post.

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Author: susantevans

Susan T. Evans is director of corporate and foundations relations at the College of William & Mary. She is a proven strategic leader with deep expertise in advancement, communications, brand management, marketing, digital strategy, technology, administration and organizational development. She is known for creative and strategic approaches to challenges within higher education, nonprofits and business.

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