“I like I wish” to get better feedback

David Calavera
Aug 2, 2016 · 2 min read

I recently read Camille Fournier’s article “The Virtue of Hubris and The Value of Complaining” and this quote made me think about something we do at Netlify every other Friday and how it started:

It’s great when people can bring problems AND solutions to you simultaneously, but it’s more likely that they will need help to see the best solution. Helping them see the best solution starts by helping them understand how to state the problem.

I discovered a technique when I took the General Management Class at Harrison Metal. After every session, alumni share feedback with the instructors in a peculiar format.

Take a piece of paper and divide it in two columns: one column for “I like” and the other for “I wish”. In the “I like” column, write things you liked about the class. In the “I wish” column, write things you wished for that class and future classes.

I like I wish’s website has a longer explanation and fantastic material to help people start with this activity.

When I joined Netlify, we didn’t have any structure in our company feedback. And to be honest, we still don’t have much. Then, we stared hiring people around the world. We thought it’d be a good idea to have informal meetings every other Friday, so we could talk about goals, accomplishments, and whatnot. It’s always great to catch up with people you work every day that you’re unable to see in the same office space.

We want to create an environment where people can feel empowered to give and receive feedback. But it didn’t cross my mind to use “I like I wish” until the morning of that first Friday. We didn’t have an agenda, so I explained this technique to everyone, and we decided to run with it.

That’s when someone decided to tell Matt and Chris, the two co-founders of Netlify, that he didn’t feel comfortable with them speaking in Danish when other people were around. It’s likely that this was on other people’s minds, but nobody wanted to say it. It made me very happy that even though this was the first time we ever tried “I like I wish”, it worked well enough to encourage someone to speak their mind.

Now, we start every Friday meeting with a round of “I like I wish”. We focus on the previous two weeks and the two weeks ahead of us. In some ways, I think it has helped us to be more open with each other. I’m sure there is a lot of room for improvement, but I’m quite pleased with this small step towards better feedback.

David Calavera

Written by

CTO at Netlify, I helped build GitHub and Docker.

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