Why Feedback Is A Good Thing

Another feature of feedback is that it needs to be constructive. Remarks like “this was good” or “you didn’t do it well” are just inputs that you cannot do anything with. They will not help you get where you want to go, they only say something of where you’ve been and what you probably already know. Once I got such a remark, after doing the pilot of a workshop. One of the feedback points was that I had a nice voice. Now of course this was nice to hear, but I do not agree on that, and it didn’t help me in improving the workshop. Proper feedback is formulated in such a way that it tells you something you can use in the future. Better would have been if I was told that because of proper intonation and volume, the participant stayed focused on the content. From that I would have learned that I had this capability, and that I should consciously use it in facilitating workshops. Now, I don’t know if that is the case.
The same goes for feedback on points of improvement. With saying something was bad, or ugly, you tell me I need to improve, but give me no guidance on how to do that. Better feedback would be that I could improve something, by thinking of or learning how-to achieve that something. For example, telling me the slides in my presentation are ugly and incomprehensible doesn’t help me. But giving me the feedback that they were too full of text and had too many colours in it, and that my improvement would be how to use less text and a better colour balance.

This brings me to balance. Feedback is not commenting on negative points, but balancing the positive points with the points to improve. A rule of thumb we use in our company is that you need to feedback on at least as many positive points as points of improvement. And preferably have only one or two more positive points. Because, the positive point are nice to hear, and help you knowing where your strengths are, but a feedback session shouldn’t become an ego trip.

The last thing about feedback is that you are in charge. You ask for feedback, and it is you that has to reflect on it, and see whether you are going to use it, or put it aside with all the good reasons you can think of.

So, if feedback is solicited, from a trusted person, constructive and balanced, then I can see no harm in it. And if you don’t forget that you are in charge, it will help you grow, learn and will not break up your creative process. If it is none of these things, it is just data, mainly designed to show off the self-perceived knowledge or expertise of the sender. Even that can be nice sometimes, if it is positive, but if you have too much of it, you can get lost in the pile. And that will indeed break up your creative process.

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A Little Present For Those Visiting Here

Because I loved it, as I do TED‘s idea of spreading ideas worth spreading. And of course the idea that music can help kids worldwide. So, here you are, a little present.

ANOTHER UPDATE: It seems to work now…
UPDATE: because the embedded player didn’t work for me in Chrome, here’s the link to the present;

Snapshots of Lutetia – Spring In The Air?

Grass having a break

Although the sky is rather grey today, and the air has a chill in it, the signs of spring are becoming more and more apparent. Days grow longer, crocusses are springing up and somehow the air is softer. In the nearby Parc Monceau, the grass is resting now, getting ready for all the spring and summer picknicks and sunbathing. After the rare snow in Paris, we are looking forward to springtime. Evenings in the parc, a bottle of rose and a book.

Can’t wait…

Tourist tips for… Amsterdam

When you live abroad, once every while you will be confronted by people who are going to visit your home country, or home town, and want some tips. It happened to me a couple of times, now. Therefore, as a one-off (and because next time I can just send the link to this blog-post): my tourist tips for Amsterdam. If you do not agree, or have something to add, feel free!

Neighbourhoods and parks
The Vondelpark, Amsterdams biggest park. Full of life, especially when the weather is nice, and in the summer season, there’s a free program in the open air theater.
Jordaan –  a bit touristy, like the Marais, but still typical for Amsterdam.
De Pijp – very multicultural, nice small places to eat and drink, not very touristy

Overly luxurious: PC Hooftstraat
Nice boutiques (clothes etcetera): De Negen Straatjes
Bijenkorf (Center)
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Snapshots of Lutetia – Renovating Villiers

Metro Villiers

Paris is working hard to renovate a big part of the metro stations. Maybe some will be refurbished in a special style, like the line 12 platform of Concorde and the many other special platforms. Most of them, though, will become clean, bright, white-tiled, almost clinical places. Maybe not as nice, but it will give a safe and comfortable feeling. And while they are renovating, some of the stations remain open during the works. Like Villiers station, where the Line 2 platforms are now almost ready, but the platforms of line 3 now have a very stripped-down look. Even exposing almost nostalgically styled signs.

Song Story 7 – Life Is Wonderful by Jason Mraz

So far thus, on the discussions on blogs and social networks. Blogs and social networks are there also for personal purposes. Like this blog. And then there is Twitter. A very personal tool, originally, intended to send that text message to all your friends by posting it once on a website. The question to answer with a tweet is “what are you doing now?”. But, people tend to use it more to answer the question “what are you thinking right now?”. And that within the limits of 140 characters. It is used in lots of different ways, and it can be very interesting. The Mars Rover was tweeting, Stephen Fry is, I am and one of the bloggers in the Lean Six Sigma arena is. But this is not a blog post arguing that businesses should use web 2.0. I think they should, but in a way that has a business rationale, and not “not to miss the train”.

This post is about a song. And how I got to it. It is about life, about how work and private life can be mixed and balanced, and how that can be wonderful. And thus, this is a blog post arguing that Life Is Wonderful.  Because of a business blog, I follow the tweets of the blogger, who at one point wondered in a tweet how long you could refrain from starting to move to the music of a certain tune. This tune was a song I already vaguely knew and liked. But when I listened to it this time, it really caught me. I starting moving back and forth, tapping my feet etcetera. At work. And, I bought the album by Jason Mraz containing the song on iTunes immediately. A bonus track on that album was Life Is Wonderful, recorded live in Amsterdam. I might even go to one of his concerts in Paris, now. For me, wonderful find and small proof of how life is wonderful, indeed.

There are a couple of blogs I follow out of work interests. Especially those that are around Lean and Six Sigma. They give me great ideas that I can use in my job, and I can discuss issues there and in other places, like LinkedIn. Where these people hang out. Yet this is not a blog post to argue that everybody should have access to internet from the workplace. I think we should, but it’s not the point.

Snapshots of Lutetia – Musée du Louvre

Le christ au roseau

Placement is important. Especially so when it concerns pieces of a musem collection. I realised this when I visited the Louvre for the first time. When you go into the Denon wing, to visit La Jaconde, one of the impressive pieces stand on top of a stairwell in all it’s majestic grandeur: the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Its placement in the museums building is excellent, and gives the statue an even more impressive air. Of course the placement of the Mona Lisa itself and the Venus of Milo gives them the respect they command. And when I visit a museum, I love to be drawn to the less famous pieces. For that, placement is also important. And that is how le Christ au Roseau by Guido Reni drew me. I really enjoyed this portrait by Guido Reni. It radiates at the end of a hall, and when you come closer it gives you a real sense of serenity, despite the painful moment it depicts. To me, this was the highlight of my first Louvre visit.

Promener Le Chien In Paris

Every day our dog and I go for our little walks. Back in Amsterdam, this was sort of a social event. Within weeks of moving into a new neighbourhood, you’d know almost all dogs by name, have nice conversations with their owners, while the dogs play or have a hierarchy discussion. Sometimes we had hilarious encounters, especially with oversized playful pups.
In Paris, this is mostly different. People tend to react very uptight on seeing another dog coming in their direction. Their favorite move mostly is to cross the street. If that is not an option, they move, panic in the eyes, as close to one side as they possibly can, sometimes trying to hide behind a tree or a parked car. All the time ever more tightening their grips on the leads. And this is the biggest mistake. The dogs get thus the message that there is danger, and that they are supported to attack. Quite soon I got accustomed to saying that my dog, ‘il est très gentil’.
Fortunately, there are also some dog owners that are much more relaxed, so yesterday evening, and this morning, we had some nice walks, meeting dog-friends, having chats and playing. Then, walking the dog is great.

Snapshots of Lutetia – New Year In 13

Mairie XIIIeme NewYear

Today, to celebrate the Chinese new year, there’s a big dragon parade in China town, down in the thirteenth. The mairie there still has it’s christmas decoration. Mixed with the chinese lampoon decorations in the streets, there’s a very festive atmosphere.