The Good Mechanics of Continuous Improvement have given us a culture of feed-back. Feed back is worshiped. There is a whole subindustry on ‘how to give feed back’. It appeals to honesty, transparency, learning, accountability, leadership, openness, performance management, and the entire Father Christmas List of Good Management. Who can argue against?
Not me. Well, a bit. Because it also leads to a rather mechanistic view of the organization that focuses on errors and fixes, on continuous improvement and natural feed back, loop learning. It’s Cybernetics as its best. And as a (very) old president of a Society of Medical Cybernetics, I can’t really dismiss that. But very often feedback loops lead to trivial incrementalism.
My problem is the hijacking of most of management airtime in some places. I feedback to you, you feedback to me, and we declare this space honest and good. Above all, we feel good. We’ve done it. I am nor sure what we have learnt, or will do different.
I am often missing a culture of feed forward, where we look at how we are moving towards a building of a shared future. OK, OK, OK, we also need to feedback about the present, which is always about yesterday. OK. But I want to know how we are building, constructing, creating and messing around with possibilities.
That’s me. Not an Universal Law.
I think we have to many thermostats that take care of the predictable and the achievable ( nothing wrong with this)
I really think we could do with switching off the thermostat from time to time. Maybe we need to experience a bit the overheating or the hibernation.
PS: Here is another silly metaphor for the corporate colection: managers manage the thermostat; leaders have to secretly and furtively sabotage it, switch it off, under the cover of darkness.