30/60/90: The Feedback Framework That’s Actually Helpful

306090 The Feedback Framework That's Actually Helpful

You’ve heard of milkshake ducks, right? (And if you haven’t, check out my awesome colleague’s article on it here.) Well, there’s another animal-related term that’s been making the rounds recently. And its application can be quite relevant to many a distributed team.

Seagulling is a verb that describes someone coming into your work, sh*tting all over it, and then flying away.

If you’re based in Australia, you’re probably familiar with the sight of this term’s namesake swooping in as you enjoy the view of the Sydney harbor, dropping bird poop on everyone’s heads, and being a general nuisance to people minding their own business.

In remote work (well, any sort of work, really), seagulling can refer to colleagues or superiors dive bombing you with comments about your work at the worst possible moment (e.g., feedback like “I think we should take the campaign in a different direction” just when you’ve finalized the mechanics and promotional material). And then hying off somewhere, never to be seen or heard from again…..until you’re doing the finishing touches on yet another project, that is.


Of course, Feedback is Still Welcome

This isn’t to say that feedback is unwelcome, of course. Quite the contrary, constructive criticism is crucial to continuous improvement, be it in a personal or professional context. The thing is, it needs to be given at the right time for it to actually be helpful. For one, watch this video to have a grasp on why feedback is important:


As we’ve already established, being told to go in a different direction when you’re wrapping things up helps no one, and can be especially damaging to a distributed team’s dynamics if left unchecked.

Fortunately, there are fairly simple guidelines you can utilize for invoking the appropriate sort of feedback at the right time. It’s called the 30/60/90 framework, and this is how it goes:



Image Credit: Pexels

30%: The Starting Point

This is the part where that “going in a different direction” comment would actually prove useful. At this stage, you don’t have much fleshed out beyond ideas for an initiative, be it in the form of an outline, a project proposal, or a few rough campaign specifications.

A project, document draft, or a design brief in its infancy thrives on feedback about its direction and scope, such as which audience is being targeted, its alignment with higher organization goals, “go” or “no go” decisions on project elements, suggestions about expanding the reach, and general impressions about the concept itself.

Comments on the nitty-gritty stuff, such as sentence structure and formatting, aren’t really necessary or helpful at this point.



Image Credit: Pexels

60%: Midway

The next round of feedback should ideally take place once you’ve established the direction of your project and already have a working draft drawn up. The 60% stage can be considered the most comprehensive one as just about everything is fair game, from the syntax and grammar of your work to whether or not the feedback from the first round was correctly implemented.

It’s especially important for all stakeholders involved to give their two cents’ worth at this stage since it’s where the initial draft transforms into a virtual finished product, thus sparing everyone from dreaded incidents of seagulling down the road.

Bear in mind that by this point in the game, the time for comments on impressions of the general concept and most “go” or “no go” decisions on key elements has passed. Those things should already have been ironed out in the previous phase.



Image Credit: Pexels

90%: Wrapping Things Up

If the 60% phase is the “speak now or forever hold your peace” stage, this part is the “is there anything else I missed?” round.

Ideally, the feedback you should get at this stage should pertain to finishing touches prior to your project’s completion. This is where the final nitty-gritties of copy-editing and formatting should come into play, along with an assessment of how well the current draft has taken the previous round’s comments into account.

Obviously, changes in direction or the expansion of the project’s scope, save for really minor ones, would be out of place at this point.

Not as Easy in Remote Working Setup

The physical distance in a typical remote work set-up can make effective communication tricky. Without nuances like facial expressions or voice inflections, mere words can come off as clinical, cold, and even abrupt, and this can make the act of giving constructive feedback more difficult than it should be for both sides.

So, it’s important to step back a bit and not take things personally as you go about soliciting feedback from the members of your team. Considering where they are coming from helps too (e.g., someone from finance will always be concerned about how much a project will cost while someone from marketing will zero in on a campaign’s reach or its potential effect on customers), particularly when it comes to processing comments with the right mindset.

What to Do With the 10%?

Lastly, cut yourself some slack too. Ignoring or overriding 10% of the feedback is just fine. You don’t need to implement every single suggestion that comes your way, sort of like how you don’t always have to pay attention to every seagull squawking in the distance.


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