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Product Development

How Peer Review Creates Strong Collaborative Teams

April 7, 2022

Whether you’ve returned to the office, work in a hybrid model, or your entire company took the leap to being fully remote, our work spaces have changed dramatically in the last two years. For many of us, gone are the days of immediate face-to-face collaboration with our team members, quick syncs while walking back from the coffee machine, and gathering around a desk to work out an issue together.

While technology can help us bridge that gap digitally, it’s adopting a new mindset around inclusive, honest, open communication that will pave the way for strong teams in a virtual world - and peer review gives us the tools to do just that.

Peer review, or the direct evaluation of work by fellow subject matter experts and other colleagues, has been used in the medical and scientific fields for centuries to help clarify ideas and ensure quality work. But it's more than just getting an extra set of eyes before publishing work or finalizing a project; it is a system that requires mutual respect, trust, and transparency at every step of the process.

Here’s how peer review can help reshape our virtual teams and create stronger, more inclusive and collaborative work environments.

Peer Review is Inclusive

While we’ve still got a long way to go, the focus on inclusion in the past few years has been a major positive milestone for the modern work environment. Achieving proper inclusion can be challenging when we’re not sharing the same space, but the inclusive mindset that powers peer review is perfectly built for bringing people together.

When we peer review a document, a new project proposal, or a batch of feedback from a dogfooding program, we’re automatically inviting different voices to the table. Those voices have to be heard, and their insights appreciated, before anything can move beyond the peer review stage.

At Centercode, Marketing encourages everyone, regardless of job title or team, to join our in-house Proofing Squad to review new blog posts before they hit our main website. We also strive to create an inclusive tester base with Betabound, our global community of hundreds of thousands of users ready to provide their feedback about our customers' products.

Peer Review Embraces A Panoramic View

Put simply, the more perspectives you have, the greater the fidelity of your final product. I like to compare this to a single picture of the Grand Canyon versus a panorama. Even in 4K, that one image can only capture a fraction of what you’re looking at.

When we engage in peer review, we get more than just our single perspective on a piece of work. Maybe someone from another department brings up an issue that never occurred to your team. Perhaps there’s an idea waiting in the wings for you to implement in a future update. And more often than not, your peers will have great things to say about the work you’ve already done. That praise goes a long way towards building trust and appreciation between teams.

If you’re running a dogfooding program at your organization, you’re already taking great steps towards improving the fidelity of your work. At Centercode, we specifically identify issues, ideas, and praise as unique feedback types to help make dogfooding more efficient, and encourage tester collaboration to develop ideas and craft impactful feedback.

Peer Review Tears Down Barriers

It’s easy to be in your own bubble when working from home. Even if you’re working within a team, isolating yourself is as easy as turning off notifications for a bit. While many of us appreciate the quiet of home, it can create barriers that prevent true collaboration.

When we ask for peer review on our work, we’re flipping the script. We’re saying to other teams, “I’m open to feedback, input, and interaction.” Just having the ability to say that can change the dynamic within your organization. It creates the opportunity for others to adopt open mindsets as well, builds bridges between teams, and fosters an environment where everyone is comfortable sharing their perspectives.

Another way to boost this mindset is by continuously showing gratitude. By sincerely thanking someone for their feedback, you’re showing that the time and effort they put into collaborating was worth it. Fun fact: Centercode’s built-in status for acknowledged praise items is called “Thank You!”

Peer Review Values the Outsider’s Perspective

Sometimes it takes the point-of-view of someone not directly involved with your team’s work to identify key areas of improvement. One of peer review’s strengths is that it invites these outside voices to comment on and collaborate around your work.

This applies not only to your internal dogfooding programs, but also to your external product tests. To maximize the diversity of the feedback you receive during your pre-release tests, consider not only recruiting outside your team, but also outside your organization.

We hope these insights provided some new perspective into how peer review can create a stronger team environment within your organization. Whether you’re spinning up a dogfooding program, or just looking at improving an existing one, Centercode has the tools and knowledge to enable a feedback-centric culture at your workplace.

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