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Tuning Protocol
Tuning Protocol

The Tuning Protocol is a structured process that allows for reflection and meaningful feedback about a project, a text, a performance, or any work in progress. The Tuning Protocol assumes that the presenter or presenters want to improve the work in question and that the participants will deliver thoughtful, substantive feedback. It is like tuning up a car or an orchestra—it assumes that attention to improvement matters.

In a Tuning, a presenter or presenting team briefly introduces and describes the work. Presenters often frame the feedback session by asking participants to consider large questions or particular aspects of the work as they respond. After asking clarifying questions, participants offer three levels of feedback:

1. Warm—respondents describe what they see working or what they like in a work.

2. Cool—respondents consider aspects of the work that might be improved or clarified by framing their response in the form of a question: "I wonder if…?" or "Have you thought about…?"

3. Hard—respondents ask deeper questions that get at larger, structural aspects of the work.

The gradations between cool and hard feedback are often difficult to discern; the facilitator often has to check in with the group to make sure questions are at the right "level", and presenters always get to choose how far they want feedback to go. In a group setting where participants are not familiar with each other, the presenter may only desire warm feedback.

The Tuning Protocol moves work forward. It allows an artist, teacher, student, or collaborators to stop and reflect upon their work. The protocol enables reflection for change as new ideas and questions are added to the process and content. A common language is created when participants start to trust each other’s knowledge, expertise and questions. This tool can be useful in the beginning, middle and end of any process or project, and will move the work deeper at any point.