Radical Candor: My Go To Feedback Routine

The Reflective Leader and Learning Organization Guide

Takeshi Yoshida


In search of better feedbacking

As a coach and mentor, challenging people is a natural part of my work, and sometimes they are in the form of tough messages. Not always though, the messages go down well with the recipient. This is particularly the case for conversations with startup entrepreneurs that I see are stuck in the trap of what I call “just do it” leap of faith product development.

For years I’ve struggled on thinking how best to get through to people in such cases and that has led to my thinking behind defensive routines, which I will shortly publish a dedicated article on the topic. Among the few models and tools that I will introduce in this soon-to-come-article, one of my favorites is Kim Scott’s “Radical Candor”. I use it as my go to feedback routine with people.

Radical Candor: Care Personally, Challenge Directly

Kim Scott, a former Apple and Google veteran and serial startup entrepreneur, came up with this framework through her own many experiences of office dramas.

Scott’s idea is that guidance is praise and criticism. And the best way to deliver that is in a balanced way of caring personally, while challenging directly.

It takes an effort to get this balance right, which Scott calls the state as Radical Candor, and if unbalanced, the following happens.

Obnoxious Aggression

If you criticize somebody mercilessly with little show of care, your guidance will be felt “obnoxiously aggressive” to the recipient. When that happens, people shut down. Their defensive routines kick-in, they go into amygdala hijack, and however well intentioned, your critical feedback is unheard. All that they will remember is the bitterness of the conversation: “I know what he’s saying is true and I appreciate that, but he is such a jerk!”

Ruinous Empathy



Takeshi Yoshida

Chief Coach, Agile Organization Development (agile-od.com) — we are a tribe of change, transformation, innovation experts