Feedback Loops

Modern software is built on feedback loops. The tighter the feedback loop, the better the outcomes.

Imagine concentric circles of loops around loops from individuals, to teams, organizations, customers, and the world! Thinking in these terms can help you to build effective teams and products.

It starts with a REPL or the compiler. An engineer hammers at their keyboard and waits for the result. Does the code run? Is the result correct? The next loop might be tests or quality assurance. The next loop might be integration testing. The next, user acceptance testing, design review, and then? Releasing to customers!

Now the loop is out of your hands. Do your customers get what they want? Does your business get the desired outcome?

At each loop you will be wrong. We write bugs bugs, we misundertsand the problem, and sometimes customers simply surprise us. An effective manager can't do everything themselves, but they can build processes to tighten feedback loops and a culture that thrives on feedback.

The examples thus far are Technological and Product loops. There's another software loop that's far more difficult to measure and often ignored: Social/Organizational.

Team cohesion, psychological safety, and individual performance can be slippery measurements. Even worse, most of your colleagues will tell you what you want to hear. Quantitative survey tools can help, but there's no substitute for authentic relationships, trust, and candor. Don't overlook the social and organizational feedback loops.