Feedback: You don’t have to be bad to get better

Elevator Pitch

In DevOps, feedback is essential. Without it we do not know whether we are getting better or worse. As human beings, our guard goes up and we get defensive when we receive anything but positive feedback. In order to successfully incorporate feedback, we must change our culture. Let’s discuss how.


When coaching my three daughters and their soccer teams for over 15 years, I started each season with a discussion about my philosophy about feedback. My mantra is that you don’t need to be bad to get better. I am coaching you not because I think you’re terrible but because I see true potential in you and I want you to be better. I carry that into my professional life and the relationships with my coworkers and my teams.

We are not good at feedback, both giving and receiving. It can be uncomfortable to hear that you could have done better. It is awkward to give direct and honest feedback when the message is “you did not meet my expectations.” Usually the receiver is left feeling inadequate. The truth is that we need to change our culture such that feedback becomes a gift. A gift that is given to someone that we care about. A gift that is received from someone that we respect.

Whether the feedback is verbal or written, from a person 1:1, from your teammates during a retrospective or information from your tools or pipelines, it should be embraced for your journey of continuous improvement. It is mandatory for a learning organization. It is imperative for Agile and DevOps! There are some important guidelines that should be followed for this to be successful and I will go into them in depth.

Let’s change our attitudes about feedback and embrace the learning!



Peter Chestna

Pete Chestna serves as the CISO of North America at Checkmarx, where he provides customers and prospects with practical advice for building successful application security programs. Bringing more than