I wrote last week about making problems obvious and the importance of quick & direct feedback loops to enable rapid problem detection & rectification. Last week I focused on the speed of the feedback, this week we’ll look at the second aspect, direct vs indirect. The problem with indirect feedback loops is the clarity of the feedback & what that enables us to do to resolve issues.
When we get feedback that has been collected &/or collated by another department or function we get a set of numbers or a specific number. That is great as they have done the “hard bit” in terms of pulling it all together. We get it & begin to realise that our performance has begun to drift in the wrong direction. The problem here, when the data/information comes from somewhere else, is that we don’t actually know for sure what it tells us. Sure, the facts are the facts, but how were they pulled together? What is the underlying detail that we have not been provided with? How accurate is the message we receive compared to what was sent/intended. Think “Chinese whispers“…
We don’t necessarily know the source of the data & we most likely don’t have direct access to it and therefore the process for digging deeper & understanding the driver behind the shift in performance requires more time & access to others (those who collect/collate). When we get access to the data, we then have to understand how it is collected & calculated (where this is done).
All of this delays our ability to resolve the problem. Longer feedback loops delay our reaction. When we do react, it takes longer to dig deep into the data to understand the cause of the problem. Not to mention having someone else do it removes ownership & accountability! Do it yourself, the benefits far outweigh the impact on your routine.