Spending a few hours providing feedback on the design of a project, the wording of contracts or policies, or creating request guidance is not uncommon for me each week. It’s a privilege to do this work. And yet is is very frustrating when all the feedback is ignored and not even acknowledged. I don’t expect all the feedback to be incorporated, but I do expect some sort of acknowledgement of it and engagement about it. Otherwise it feels like a waste of time.
One of the findings in the report is that we are getting more feedback from recipients and participants in cash programmes. This is great. However, the report also finds there is little evidence that this feedback leads to any change. It’s like we’re collecting lots of feedback forms and hitting delete or throwing them in the bin. A huge waste of time for those providing the feedback and a waste of resources to collect it anyway.
It would be more honest if we didn’t collect it in the first place and told recipients we weren’t interested in hearing from them.
The thing is that when we DO listen and DO make changes, the quality of our interventions always improves. Maybe not for the donor or for the organisation, but for the recipient who we say we seek to serve.
So perhaps one of the calls to action coming out of this report needs to be an examining of the metrics we use for judging success. Maybe we need to measure how much time we are wasting (ours and recipients) when we collect feedback and then don’t act on it.
Listening, truly listening to feedback, in a non-defensive manner takes maturity. Making changes based on feedback can be hard and also requires maturity.
So perhaps it’s time for us as the aid community to grow up.
The choice is up to us.