Directional vs Executional Feedback.

One of the core ideas behind Mäd is that we work with our clients to understand their customers/user’s problems and then work backwards to build solutions to address for the most pressing pain points.

Directional vs Executional Feedback.

At Mäd, we are not “solution providers” in the traditional sense that we start with a ready-made solution that they want to sell to their potential customers. The issue with this approach is that there is a tendency to push the same solution to all problems, and it’s easy to see how that can lead to problems in the near future.

"I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail." ~Abraham Maslow.

A large leading law firm needs a different solution to their problems than a three-person software startup, and, in turn, the diversified conglomerate has completely different needs to both of those organizations.

The one key component in our process, regardless of the type of client we work with, is the process of co-creation of understanding the problems and figuring out solutions.

Of course, this requires feedback from our clients on the details of our solution, whether it is an improvement of a business process  or a new digital product.

It is this area of the process that we want to deal with in this essay.

There are two different types of feedback, and we encourage our clients to focus on only one type of feedback, as while they are specialists in their own field and understand their market well, they are not experts in crafting the detailed solutions to those problems.

The difference between executional and directional feedback is best explained with an example.

Let’s imagine that we are redesigning the pricing page of a website for a software startup.

  • Directional feedback is about what you want to achieve, and the, unsurprisingly, the direction required to do so.
  • Executional feedback is about what will be actually done to achieve the goal.

Examples of directional feedback:

  • Make the pricing easier to understand
  • Ensure that the customer can see monthly and yearly plans
  • Try to push the “pro” plan as the margins are higher and there is normally greater retention as the customer receives key features on that plan that are very sticky. Perhaps some type of highlight or banner for that pricing point would help?
  • Let’s add a comparison of the cost to key competitors.

Examples of executional feedback:

  • Please place the pro plan in the middle,and ensure that it is bold red font with 23px.
  • Add a banner on the right saying “recommended” and also a star.
  • When hovering over the pricing, make it bounce so that the customer is pleased.

The reason why we recommend our clients to stick to directional feedback is because it allows us the utmost creative freedom to execute against a clear direction, and takes the focus off relatively unimportant details (font/colors) that we can be trusted to get right, and places more focus on the key objectives that we are actually trying to reach.

It’s also about having everyone exercise sound judgement in the area where they are best suited to do so. It would be unwise for a designer to try and change or comment upon a bank’s customer acquisition strategy that is based on a deep study of the market, but it would likewise be unwise for a marketing manager to tell the designer how to design a footer.

In summary, let each person do what they are best at, and work as a team.