Structured Peer Reviews

Several years ago (probably 7 or 8 ) I attended an event organized by a company called TechDirt. There is one aspect of the event I remember vividly. Let us call it Structured Peer Review. I don’t think it was the name they used. I just made the name up so that we can talk about it a bit. Here is how it works:

1. A set of companies come and pitch their products. These companies are pre-selected by some process.

2. At the end of all the pitches (which may last for  half an hour to an hour), the audience form teams.  Each team picks one company’s product/pitch. A representative from the company can sit with the audience team as a silent observer. The discussion lasts for about half an hour.

3. At the end of the discussion one representative from each group presents the groups suggestions. This can be on any aspect – technology, business model or even the pitch itself.

I found this exercise to be valuable. I did not pitch but was part of the discussion teams (we had two sessions of pitches and discussions). The discussions were pretty intense and every one participated. We were eager to give our best since we had a sense of  kinship with the companies.

After the event, I talked to a few companies that presented and they really liked getting the feedback. They even liked being part of deliberations since they learned a lot from just people outside their company, discussing the product.

I am proposing this as a session in a couple of conferences. I think it has two benefits:

  1. The participating companies will get some useful feedback (at least an outside opinion)
  2. As a product community, we will bond together a bit more

We are always looking for ways to enrich the experience of participating in a conference. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment here.  If we decide to implement the Structured Peer Review session, I will come back and share more info.

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