Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Feedback and Rypple

A few days ago, I was talking to some of my Kellogg friends, and we were discussing good ways to give feedback to each other. Kellogg does have a standard survey that any student can send out to his/her group mates for that quarter, but the rates of people filling out the survey are dismal; I have tried sending it out for two quarters, and have gotten a grand total of two responses.

My Leading and Managing Teams class taught my Professor Apfelbaum was a completely different experience. Professor A mandated that each member of the team think of five positive and five negative pieces of feedback for each team member, type them up in a template that he provided in a font that he specified, and then tear each section apart and put in the person's envelop, thus making the feedback anonymous. The feedback I got from this exercise was invaluable. Thinking of ten pieces of feedback for each member of the team wasn't fun, but it was a very valuable exercise in the end.

So back to what I was thinking - I thought why isn't there a way to give anonymous, constructive feedback in companies? Why cannot people recognize each other for a job well done? After all, aren't we giving each other feedback in some way via Facebook likes, Twitter retweets etc?

Enter Rypple. According to their Crunchbase entry, they were founded in 2008 in Toronto, and raised 7 million dollars in Series A funding in 2010. The software promises to get rid of performance reviews that "suck" and instead brings a culture of constant feedback and learning to employees. I can see such reviews and feedback items being extremely helpful, and bringing in a useful perspective on yearly performance reviews. I love the idea. However, I see some issues with this product as it is right now:

1. First of all - Rypple up being another social network for the enterprise; and there can be just one. Yammer and Chatter (from salesforce.com) are going head to head against each other; Rypple needs to find a way to work with them rather than standing alone.

2. I think that the product is missing an initial hook to bring in users. It uses a Yammer like go to market approach, where anyone can sign up for a free account, and the organization can 'claim' the network later for $5 per user. However, if I was in Rypple's place, I would try to provide value right out of the gate; for example, what if I could sign up for Rypple, then send a feedback request to anyone in my company, and they can give me anonymous feedback without needing to sign up? I get immediate value, and people who give me a feedback get an opportunity to sign up for an account. As they hear more and more about rypple, they eventually sign up and there you have people up and running on it!

3. The name - why is the name Rypple? Don't get it.....

4. Last, but not least, implementing Rypple will involve a sea change in how a company works. I guess others - like Yammer - have made that change in companies, but I would argue that Rypple involves an even greater change in how we give feedback to each other, how public we make it, how often we look for/want feedback.

On the positive side:

1. Love the inbound marketing approach. They already have videos with several customers up and running

2. Product design is fairly good, though a lot of features do make it somewhat confusing

Good luck Rypple. Excited to see where this goes...

High Level Rypple Demonstration from Rypple on Vimeo.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Shobhit,

    Thanks for the very thoughtful and positive post - and the great questions. I’m really glad that we have inspired you and that you like what we’re working on.

    Here are some quick answers to your questions.

    1. Totally agree. We’re not trying to compete with Yammer and Chatter. We have some basic “enterprise social networking” features built in because many customers don’t already have existing ESN's, and Rypple only exists in a social context (e.g. you need a feed). In the coming months you’ll see Rypple operating on/with Yammer, Chatter, Jive and others. We want to focus on what we’re great at: social software for feedback, coaching, recognition. See here for more context: http://www.bridgescale.com/uncategorized/ryppple-bridgescale-on-fortune-com

    2. Actually, you can do exactly as you request: “sign up for Rypple, then send a feedback request to anyone in my company, and they can give me anonymous feedback without needing to sign up?” That’s how Rypple works. We encourage users to engage in coaching first, because this is where deep lasting feedback relationships start. You can absolutely just request feedback via email and get replies with no sign-up required on the receiver's end. They don’t even have to come to a web-site; just hit reply to the email.

    3. The name: Because “a little feedback goes a long way”. And the Y - evokes asking a question, and the generation of web-savvy users driving Rypple adoption.

    4. Not as much sea change as you think. In fact, we think the behaviors we encourage are already happening, but they are awkward, kludgey, or bureaucratic. Great managers already recognize people for doing a good job, meet 1:1, set goals, and ask for feedback. It just happens in email, spreadsheets, notebooks and docs. And, it is infrequent and very formal. So, like all great social tools we design to make these behaviors more efficient and lightweight - and thus making them occur more often and easily.

    5. We like feedback, so I’d love to hear what feature are confusing. We have some great designers on board (http://blog.rypple.com/2011/03/3-questions-with-rypple-superstar-marcus-gosling/) and we’d always like to learn how we can improve. Shoot me an email at ddebow at rypple dot com.

    Thanks again for the post and I hope this was helpful.

    Warm regards,