The Shakespearean Ripening of a New Market: People’s Feedback

Preparing The Globe Theatre

The banana is still green but shades of a prescient, yellow harvest is on the way. Yesterday’s product announcement of PeopleSpark, a brainchild of Bigcommerce co-founder and board member Mitch Harper, is another telling sign that people’s feedback is more than an interesting niche but rather a wide open market for disruption. In August, Forbes writer Josh Bersin penned, Feedback Is The Killer App: A New Market and Management Model Emerges in what many have described as the opening soliloquy of a Shakespearean play. The stage has been set: a fertile market accompanied by ambitious entrepreneurs playing their hand to win the court’s approval and praise.

Performance Reviews Final Act

PeopleSpark is definitely not the only player in a court with many characters, subtleties, and sides. Let’s first start with the overarching theme of most applications in the People’s Feedback (Feedback App) Market. Human Resources rules the roost when it to comes to anything people oriented. This includes payroll, benefits, vacation tracking, firing/hiring, — what we all have known as HR growing up. A sliver of HR involves frontline-manager-to-HR collaboration, yes you guessed it: the annual, semi-annual, or quarterly performance review. Each company does it different while every manager and direct report despise it just as much. Performance reviews have taken on a very bad rap in the last few years creating a shift where even the big boys kicked them to the can (How Accenture and Deloitte Got Rid of Performance Reviews). This news alone has created enough buzz in the entrepreneurial world to get VC funding and talented teams solving a massive problem.

The Thin Line Between HR and Great Management

What happens when managers actually want to lead? HR isn’t responsible for the day-to-day, so they can’t be the ones that do this job.

What tools are available for the manager to lead, motivate, and inspire. This is where it get’s interesting. Bersin describes this quadrant of Feedback as the “Next Generation Pulse Survey and Management Feedback Tools. PeopleSpark, along with 15Five, CultureAmp, TinyHR, Glint, Perceptyx, BlackbookHR, Culture IQ, OfficeVibe,, GetHppy, Impraise, ModernSurvey, VirginPulse, TemboStatus, and Thymometrics have developed efficient systems to rapidly survey employees with short, easy to take surveys.”

All of these apps are great but they aren’t HR. They are tools for good managers who lead good teams to do better than they can alone. In most organizations, HR has very little to do with the manager-direct report relationships — performance reviews and firing aside. This is where HR stops.

The Birth of One on One Meeting Software

It seemed like yesterday. In reality it was over a year ago on the floor of Benioff’s Dreamforce in 2014. I was talking with a sales manager of 50+ who has a thick New England accent:

New Englander: “Jon, you know the two words I’m starting to despise?”

Me: “Oh yeah, what’s that?”

New Englander: “Predictive analytics.”

Me: “Tell me more.”

New Englander: “It’s like every time I turn around to a booth, I’ve got some guy screaming in my ear about predictive analytics. I mean I get the value data but it’s just too much.”

Here I was, the CEO of a company hawking Analytics and live leader boards and it hit me. All of this data doesn’t mean a damn thing unless the manager is going to act on it.

That moment and many more soon thereafter proved vital in the pivot of Rivalry.

The answer to the question: “What are you going to do with all this data?” when posed to hundreds of managers proved our pivot was well overdue.

The best answers to our question sounded something like this: “Jon, we’re going to take the data in our One on One meetings to help coach, train, motivate, and lead my team members to greatness?”

That’s when it hit us. The real value was in making sure One on One meetings happen, are productive, and documented.

Since August 2014, almost a full year before the Feedback App market was written about in Forbes, Rivalry’s One on One Meeting software is used by Google, Thomson Reuters, General Electric, Ford, Chrysler, At&t, LG, Dell, PayPal, Mass Mutual and hundreds more for the 30 most important minutes of the week: the weekly One on One (with real reviews).

Download 47 Questions Your Should Ask in Your Next One on One Meeting

The Old Is New Again

What does One on One software and the Feedback App Market have to do with each other? Years before someone would have dreamt of a software application helping with management, great leaders performed One on Ones. Each One on One was prepared by the direct report, both the manager and direct report executed on the weekly meeting, and proper steps to follow up agreed upon (and documented) for the next week. This process was very time consuming and is still done by thousands of managers every day. There are certain features that One on One meeting software and the HR/Feedback App/People’s Feedback market have in common and setting the agenda for a proper One on One is a commonality.

Ready for Act I

No one can predict the future however the convergence of HR, Performance Management, One on Ones, Culture/Feedback Apps will produce an Act worth following. Rivalry is subtly suited well with a long list of clients, a lean organization with hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue, and a product that is much better than any blog post could write.

The market is definitely a stage and each company will play a part.