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Jurgen Appelo calls himself a creative networker. But sometimes he's a writer, speaker, trainer, entrepreneur, illustrator, manager, blogger, reader, dreamer, leader, freethinker, or… Dutch guy. Since 2008 Jurgen writes a popular blog at, covering the creative economy, agile management, and personal development. He is the author of the book Management 3.0, which describes the role of the manager in agile organizations. And he wrote the little book How to Change the World, which describes a supermodel for change management. Jurgen is CEO of the business network Happy Melly, and co-founder of the Agile Lean Europe network and the Stoos Network. He is also a speaker who is regularly invited to talk at business seminars and conferences around the world. After studying Software Engineering at the Delft University of Technology, and earning his Master’s degree in 1994, Jurgen Appelo has busied himself starting up and leading a variety of Dutch businesses, always in the position of team leader, manager, or executive. Jurgen has experience in leading a horde of 100 software developers, development managers, project managers, business consultants, service managers, and kangaroos, some of which he hired accidentally. Nowadays he works full-time managing the Happy Melly ecosystem, developing innovative courseware, books, and other types of original content. But sometimes Jurgen puts it all aside to spend time on his ever-growing collection of science fiction and fantasy literature, which he stacks in a self-designed book case. It is 4 meters high. Jurgen lives in Rotterdam (The Netherlands) -- and in Brussels (Belgium) -- with his partner Raoul. He has two kids, and an imaginary hamster called George. Jurgen has posted 145 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

The Feedback Door

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If there’s one thing I am still learning to cope with, it’s criticism. But I figured out that constructive criticism truly improves what I do, like nothing else. It’s, after all, one of the first principles of Agile: keep the feedback loop as short as possible.

These days I use ongoing feedback to improve my courses while giving them. This is how it works: there’s one door in the course room, preferably the one leading to the coffee corner, that I name the “feedback door” and you should not go through the door without giving some feedback on the last topic. No matter if it’s a fundamental issue or only a smiley, you put something on the door.

I started implementing ongoing feedback with sticky notes in my courses for a very simple reason: when participants have the topic fresh in mind, I assumed the feedback they would give me would be more accurate. And that could help me improve my courses when, after the course, I went through all the sticky notes I received. The reason I checked the feedback afterwards was that I didn’t like confronting myself with those bloody sticky notes directly during the course. Because what to do when they didn’t like my sweater? What if they didn’t like the word ‘ehm’ as the start of every other sentence? Or even worse, what if they thought my courseware was ridiculous?

But, contrary to my fears, the feedback notes never turned out to be problematic, and many were even compliments! And, more important, I came to realize that it was important to read them immediately during the course. Because, though most feedback doesn’t require immediate action, there are some others I can act upon straight away. Like “maybe you could slow down the laser pointer a bit”. Or “we have trouble hearing you in the back of the room, could you make sure you face us while talking”. Immediate feedback makes those two days more effective, and more fun.

During last week’s course in Gouda I made another improvement: I added a happiness index to the feedback door. Students place their sticky note on a scale of one to five, indicating how they feel. 1 = very negative. 5 = very positive. Now the feedback door is not only about qualitative feedback, but also about people’s mood during the course. Which, if necessary, I can try to manipulate with strawberries dipped in chocolate…

Published at DZone with permission of its author, Jurgen Appelo. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)



Mark Anthony replied on Fri, 2012/04/13 - 9:49am

What a great idea. I think this would be useful outside of classroom settings. I want to try it at my next off-site.

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