Sparring: How to Get Peer Feedback You Can Actually Use
Asking for peer feedback is fraught with peril. It’s everyone’s second most-dreaded part of the annual review process (only the self-review induces more anxiety). So it’s no wonder we don’t make a habit of seeking it the other 364 days of the year.
But seek it we should. Admittedly, it feels like a tax at first. Then, you realize it’s an investment.
There’s not been a single instance when getting a peer’s input on my work didn’t improve it. The trick is getting the right people to weigh in on the right piece of work at the right time. My favorite way to solve for that is with a technique that comes out of design thinking.
It’s called “sparring”, and it’s a structured way to evaluate work that is still in progress. At it’s best, a sparring session will also help you reach specific conclusions and make the decisions that move your project forward.
How 1 hour sparring Works
Let’s start with the vital stats. For a sparring session, you’ll need:
- 2-4 peers who will respectfully challenge you
- 30 minutes prep time
- 30 minutes for the sparring session
- a visual representation of whatever you’re working on (a diagram on the whiteboard works fine)