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What can Shawshank Teach You About Feedback?

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What can Shawshank Teach You About Feedback?

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During the festive season it’s common for movies to form the bulk of the TV schedules.  One of the channels here in the UK went full-on with this and showed all six Star Wars movies.  Fun though they are, the inspiration for this particular blog comes from the enduring classic that just happened to be on straight after Attack of the Clones.

The Shawshank Redemption  is one of those movies that pretty much everyone loves, and rightly sits near the top of most best movie ever lists.  Anyway, I’m sure most of you know the story so I won’t dwell on that, but when watching it the Tommy sub-plot struck a chord.

There was an opportunity for the warden to get some crucial feedback about a flaw in the judicial process.  A flaw that had already resulted in a man being falsely imprisoned for 20 years no less.  However it would be a flaw that would put a spanner in the works of the wardens personal shenanigans, so the whistleblower in this case was taken out to the yard and shot.

It provided a telling contrast to the news a few days after the movie was shown that a whistleblower in the UK National Health Service had received an OBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours list.

The two provide a telling contrast to how feedback, especially critical feedback can and should be handled.  The two stories represent a culture that wants feedback versus a culture that doesn’t. One that wants to improve versus one that thinks it already has the answers.

That you’re on this blog in the first place hopefully marks you out as someone who believes in the importance of feedback.  You’re someone that appreciates how valuable it is for organisations to learn when things are going wrong, and who understands the value employees place on having a voice that is heard and appreciated.

We all know what eventually happened to the warden in Shawshank, and the message from the corporate world is equally bleak for managers and organisations that insist on burying their heads in the sand and ignoring the feedback their employees and customers are dying to give them.

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