As I've mentioned (kind of a lot now), I've just finished writing and producing this Vision Into Action program. As I've also mentioned, this is a much more intense project than I expected (though I am thrilled with the outcome, mind you.) There are multiple moving parts and the expertise and input of many smart people is needed to really hit this kind of project out of the park.
A truly great information product has all of the same elements that any other exceptional product has:
- Great design
- Ease of Use
- Provides a fabulous experience
- Solves the problem or Meets the desire that inspired its purchase
As the Author, It's Hard to Know If You're Getting It Right
The thing is, when you are the author and producer of said Great Information Product, it's really hard to be sure you have hit all of these elements brilliantly. For me, having written every single sentence of the 30,000+ word guide that goes with Vision Into Action, there came a time when I simply could no longer hear the content as I read it to myself. I had lived, breathed, and relived every sentence so many times that I had no idea how to determine if, as a whole, the concept was being shared in the most useful way.
Ask for Feedback.
So, I had to ask for feedback. And I asked for it from quite a few people – busy, smart people who are in high demand in many areas of their lives. This is beyond the expertise that I hired people for such as the manuscript review, editing and design. This is the kind of feedback that you request for free.
Think Hard About Who You Ask for Feedback.
It's a really big favor to ask – reading a book for someone before it is finished baking and asking for specific thoughts and ideas to make it better. You want to think hard about who you ask and how you ask them – then what you will do with the information when you get it. I learned a lot in the process of gathering feedback. I thought you might find it handy for your next creative endeavor requiring insight from others.
Here's what I learned during my feedback gathering process:
1. Other people have really amazing ideas.
2. Some amazing ideas just don't fit in this project.
3. Not everyone is going to get it. It matters that the Right people get it.
4. People can help you way better when you tell them exactly what will help the most.
5. A heartfelt thanks and an offer to reciprocate help works wonders.
Feedback Brings Amazing Ideas:
My feedback crew on Vision Into Action brought me some amazing ideas that I couldn't possibly have thought of I hadn't asked for their input. At least three of the most useful online tools I added to the exclusive web page that go with Vision Into Action were specific suggestions from the feedback crew. I am including an audio version of the DVD interview on the CD based on the insight from one feedback partner that some people will enjoy listening to the CD in their car. All of this, plus literally hundreds of text, storytelling and editing suggestions made this information product so much better than it would have been without their collaboration.
Some Ideas Simply Don't Fit.
While the vast majority of ideas I got were integrated in some way into the product, there were suggestions that simply didn't fit with the overall goal of the program. I had to remind myself regularly that, while my feedback partners are really smart people with fabulous ideas, I am the one who hold the Vision for this product. I need to stay clear and true to that Vision so as not to dilute it with the many different ideas and directions that creativity can take me and others involved.
Your Feedback Collaborators Really Need to Get It.
There were times during the process when I really lost my excitement for the whole thing. Fear would take over as I realized how much time, energy and resources I was expending to create this product. Intellectually, I know this is a normal part of creativity because I've experienced it before during my own projects and by watching clients go through this during consulting gigs with them. And yet – couple this low-point with feedback from someone who just doesn't understand what you are trying to do and you can get sent reeling into Doubtville. This happened once to me. Luckily, the experience was unknowingly followed up by another smart person who totally got what I was trying to do and the energy of that collaboration pulled me up from the depths. Surround yourself with people who get what you are doing (note: this doesn't mean they have to agree with everything you say and do – that's not helpful – but they really should get the value you are adding and be a fan of it.)
Be Specific In Your Feedback Requests.
As I went through the feedback gathering process, I got way better at asking for specifically what I wanted from my collaborators. This helped my collaborators expend energy where it was most needed, instead of feeling responsible for finding every misspelling in the document (which was being handled by my brilliant copy-editor/husband.)
Give Genuine Thanks and Offer to Reciprocate.
I worried a lot about the huge favor I was asking of my friends and colleagues on this relatively large project. I knew the amount of work it entailed because I have been involved in feedback and editing of books for friends and colleagues. It's not small commitment. But then I remembered how I felt, being invited into these really cool projects by people I liked and respected. It felt good – I felt valued and smart. I felt like I made a difference in a meaningful project for someone I cared about. Then I realized that my genuine thanks and offer to provide help on their next project was probably enough.
Every single time I invite others' brilliance into a project, the outcome is beautifully enhanced. I wish that for you in your next creative adventure. I hope this helps you make the most of the collaborative opportunity.
Thank you, JacobB0tter, for the collaboration image.