Daily leadership activities to leverage complexity. 5th–Feedback loops

What are feedback loops and why we need them?

The problem with complexity is the continuous change of your relevant landscape. Those frequent changes create a high level of uncertainties and unplanned events. In such environments, there is no place for delays or bureaucracy! It doesn’t really matter what is the reason for any delay, they have a negative impact. To survive in a complex environment as soon as the event detected every element in the organization capable of responding must receive a notification.

Organizations are built on hierarchies. One hierarchy’s role is communication and transformation of information between different parts of the system. The implication of such a structure is slow notifications. Because of the number of hoops data needs to travel through,  once new information detected, it will take time for this information to find its way to the part that can take action. I’m not suggesting to throw away the hierarchical structure. What I suggest is to create feedback loops that can detect events and notify directly the right part of the system, so they can respond.

Well, for the freak control people among my readers, those feedback loops can also notify management. The main principle behind the feedback loop is a direct connection between group or individual in an organization to the source where events and feedback are coming from. With zero hoops. Those feedback loops should also give immediate feedback to the responder part if his actions were successful. 

Feedback loops are time-consuming for leaders/managers. They require:

1) Realization of the areas you want to get feedback from (customer feedback, social media reputation, sales, etc.).

2) Understanding of who in the organization needs to receive the feedback

3) Finding what is the best way to receive feedback and notify the right part of an organization.

4) Developing technical solutions to enable the feedback. Most times, technology can help to set up dynamic and generic feedback loops. Without technology the time it will take a human to process the data will make the feedback irrelevant.

5) Monitoring the effectiveness of the defined feedback loops. Are they helping people and teams to get the right notifications for events and for their corresponding actions? 

6) Continuous adjusting of feedback loops, including the source and destination.

We (at Galaxies) didn’t invent feedback loops (and rules and modules, that we will discuss next post). We took them from Complex Adaptive Systems. A science that explains how complex systems around us (such as our brain, the market, and your subdivision) are operating successfully and improving themselves in a complex environment they are part of.

Feedback loops are an essential part of the system we are discussing.  A system that enables management/leadership to take advantage of complexity. The current communication channels need to adjust to enable notifications as soon as the landscape change.  Fast notification enables fast respond. I’m using respond and not react intentionally. I will focus my next post on how to eliminate reaction and replace it with responding.

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