Thinking about your feedback loop; what information are you trying to get from whom, to whom, and to bring about what change?
The SMS and IVR enabled mobile platform aims to i) track, verify and respond to grievances between workers or community members and site-level management of a company, to facilitate a cost efficient, timely and effective grievance response while minimizing social and environmental risk. ii) provide a medium where private companies, governments or NGOs can send perception surveys to workers, community members or other stakeholders to verify the satisfaction and quality of service provision, grievance response or social investment project, to improve the quality and quantity of data for accurate monitoring and evaluation. iii) provide a medium where private companies, governments or NGOs can engage with stakeholders through polling surveys on content and strategies in monitoring and evaluation and participate in social investment decision- making, this co-designing aspect ensures effectiveness of community related projects since co-creation creates ownership and is contextual therefore improving uptake and scale of impact. iv) provide a medium for private companies and Ulula to close feedback loops with relevant stakeholders by asking about the effectiveness of feedback mechanisms to help optimize and reassess the mobile platform’s engagement strategy and collect data relevant for measuring the direct impact the mobile platform is having on stakeholders (measuring impact for proof of concept).
Could you briefly describe the way you collect the feedback?
We collect feedback through SMS and Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR) –free of charge- to lower the barriers for participation and maximize reach to illiterate and marginalized groups in the community. We expect these mechanisms to complement existing corporate feedback mechanisms (in-person, web). The specific mechanisms for collecting feedback will depend on the context. For example, mobile phone penetration rates by demographic groups, existing feedback mechanisms, laws and regulations for network providers or the culture around mobile phone usage will affect the way in which SMS and IVR based feedback is collected in a community/ workplace. To ensure maximum uptake, contextual differences are accounted for by following through four phases in our field deployment strategy: Assess, Integrate, Build and Implement.
Typically users register to the platform by texting to a phone number, basic demographic questions are asked in the registration process and users then officially become part of the Ulula platform. Feedback is sent to Ulula by texting or calling and following IVR directions to a fixed telephone number. Once Ulula receives feedback, depending on the use of the feedback (grievance, perception survey, polling or closing the feedback loop), data is anonymized and managed through a customizable dashboard. In order to minimize selection bias that can come when certain demographic groups do not have a mobile phone, or when illiteracy prevents users from joining and engaging in the platform, we will distribute community phones and create targeted incentive packages.
If other, please specify
We use targeted outreach based on measured sample bias and targeted incentives if and as needed.
If other, please specify
Operational risk is a major driver; economic efficiency in local procurement another
If other, please specify
Multi-channels (web, radio, media); context specific
Give two concrete examples of how feedback loops have brought a program or policy more in line with citizens’ desires.
1. Phonebloks (https://phonebloks.com/en/goals), a modular phone designed with the purpose of reducing electronic waste, is partnering with Motorola to build a perfect modular phone for citizens through an open platform. The primary aim is to fully engage with feedbacks from the world wide community to improve aspects of its product design, and business development strategy. At every step of Phonebloks’ progress, challenges are posted online for the community to give feedback on, share ideas and vote for solutions. Averaging 350 total idea submissions per week and with an active and growing registered community of 16,800 people Phonebloks is one of the first companies to have leveraged feedback loops at the very early stages of product design (even before the prototype is built).
2. Charles Schwab, an American brokerage and investment bank firm, decided to progressively incorporate customer- centric feedback loop mechanisms into its business operations after the business began to suffer in 2004. Through online client ratings and reviews, and closely monitoring Net Promoter Scores and re-aligning its service to customer’s requirements, the firm saw its revenues increase by 11% in 2008 and scores jump by 25%.
The examples show the potential for feedback loops in the private sector to drive design and service. Ulula is trying to adapt these lessons to high impact industries such as oil, gas, mining, forestry and agribusiness.
If there was one thing you could change to increase the impact of your feedback loop, what would it be?
Ulula relies on human sensors to create a feedback loop that mitigates personal as well as corporate risks while creating shared value. While “human sensors” are paramount, we are limited in our ability to monitor environmental impact using simple mobile technology. The ability to integrate machine sensors and integrate them with human sensors in a cost effective manner would increase the impact potential of the tool. Ulula is looking at companies such as Planet Labs (http://www.planet-labs.com/) and Mobosens (http://nanobionics.mntl.illinois.edu/mobosens/) to assess options for integrating some innovative machine data into its platform.
If other, please specify
Resistance to innovation due to economic constraints and conservatism in target sector
The build up of a critical mass of tools for feedback loop will contribute to the emergence of a market place for feedback approaches in the public and private sector (and in between). The need exists but it has only partially translated into actual demand. This helps bridge that gap by showing the availability of tools. It also helps create more awareness about the differences between tools and platforms –not just in terms of technology but also with respect to associated services.
What is the one thing you would most like to see changed to improve the competition process?
It may be useful to consider a slightly more compact timeline. The length of the process provides ample time to revise submissions but may result in pivots that constitute new entries unrelated to initial submission. In other words the timeline may better enable with the motto “fail fast, succeed faster”. The first edition of the competition is quite generic. In considering a second edition it may create different sub-categories to provide visibility to a larger number of projects. It may also make sense to link the competition with relevant events to increase face-to-face exchange with a few selected projects (e.g. finalists), peer exchange and exposure to some other members in the feedback community.
What are you doing to make sure that feedback providers know that they are empowered by the information they can give and that they know exactly what the information they are providing?
We engage with community in co-designing the platform to present the general approach and agree with them what they want to provide feedback about, how they want the data to be communicated back so that they structure this approach in the first place. We work with community leaders to explain them the role of the feedback platform, recruit them as ambassadors to raise awareness and/or neutralize them in case they see Ulula as a threat. We continuously invest in marketing the platform through media. We systematically close the loop with individual users reporting and regularly publish aggregate collected data to build trust and encourage use of data for decision-making and advocacy.