Managing Feedback Loops

By Douglas Weinstein
Published on: December 31, 2020

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With an ever-changing marketplace, evolving competition and the rapidity of technological advance, how can you build positive, effective feedback loops to stay one step ahead of your competition? That’s a big question for major corporations and lots of dough is being expended to figure out how to effectively harness, manage and exploit feedback loops. Let’s take a look at the big picture and the basics of what an effective manager can do to better harness intra-office communications, in-field conversations and employee dynamics.

Whether you are designing a new product or delivering a new service, by the time it takes you to bring that idea to market, many things will have changed. There might be new products from your competitors that undercut your pricing strategy or have proprietary features you would not be able to incorporate into your latest widget. There will be new competitors looking to exploit any weakness in your strategic vision.

For most companies, you will take these facts of life into consideration as you move from design to production. And that, in a nutshell, is how you manage a feedback loop. Let’s break that down into the basic components.

  1. So, you come up with a whiz-bang idea and want to develop a new product. Obviously, you’ll do your due diligence and look around the marketplace and analyze the competition. An effective feedback loop manager will take the time to talk to their dealers and conduct focus group sessions with potential end-users to get a more realistic picture on the potential success of any given product or service release.
  2. But wait, by the time you go from design to planning your productions, things will have changed in the marketplace. This is where the feedback loop manager excels – they will have kept up to date on their competition and gone back and reviewed the final products specs with those same dealers and end-users they previously interviewed. They will have reported back to the design team to let them know of any changes that need to be made before full production commences.
  3. But that’s not all! An effective feedback loop manager will also be taking the messages they get from their in-house team out to the marketplace and ‘shopping’ those ideas to see what the potential is for market share. You see, the feedback loop starts and ends with the feedback loop manager and is constantly spinning in both directions – from in-house to the field, and from the field back to the in-house team.

The bottom line. Flexibility. To effectively manage and exploit feedback loops, your entire company has to become flexible in their thinking and their execution. You cannot afford to have prima donnas who throw a hissy fit when you come back and say, “we have to add this key feature or figure out how to incorporate this new technology or the product won’t sell like we had planned.” Flexibility doesn’t mean the product never comes to market – it just means that if you are going to put in the effort to create a feedback loop, you need to act on the very latest intel your field representatives are sending back to the home office.

Douglas Weinstein

Douglas Weinstein

Doug is the Editor and co-founder of the Technology Insider Group and Technology Designer Magazine. Previously, he was the Executive Director and co-founder of the Elf Foundation, a non-profit organization that created Room of Magic entertainment theaters in children's hospitals across North America.

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