The Week in Review # 41: The Importance of Feedback Loops

Failure is part of the human experience. All of us have been in situations where we have made mistakes. A person’s true character is revealed in how they deal with the mistake. The first step requires us to take responsibility. This is easy to do when the stakes are small. Our true character is revealed as the size of mistakes become larger. At this point our ego and sense of self comes into question. Admitting a mistakes takes courage. It requires one to make themselves vulnerable. We do our very best to avoid being in that position. We will re-frame the situaton or come up with excuses that seem very logical.

The problem is our world view is very different from reality. We have blinded ourselves from seeing the real picture due to the absence of a strong feedback system. In the world of enterprise software I see this quite regularly. A senior executive makes a decision to buy a large software, enter a new market or make a very senior hire. Things didn’t go as planned and now the executive needs to defend their position. Due to the executives seniority in the company most people will not challenge their world view. Eventually the mistake will become a thing of the past and everyone will move on. This example repeats itself in many industries as well as our daily lives. The unfortunate part is that no one learns from the mistake.

Imagine going to the driving range and hitting balls in complete darkness. Not knowing where each ball was going. All we know is that we are successfully hitting the ball. Compare that with the situation of being in a well lit range where we can see where each ball is going. With each stroke we can recalibrate and get closer to the target.

Running a business or our lives without a strong feedback system will rarely get us where we want to be. 

Gathering honest feedback is always a challenge. We have to be open to hear things we do not want to. Be willing to make changes and learn from our mistakes. This requires a heightened level of self awareness. All of us have the ability to build these systems around us. It starts from asking the right questions and most importantly acutely listening to the feedback we are given.



Silicon Valley Success Goes to the Fastest, Not the First This article builds upon a class that is currently being conducted at Stanford called Blitzscaling. If you are running a startup or planning on starting one, all the videos are a must watch. This article encapsulates the core of the course and is a great primer to start with.

Resist and Thrive Kickstarter recently converted to a Benefit Corporation. In this detailed post the founder of the company goes into great length why he chose to take this path. The post starts with a primer on current market trends that solely optimize for a certain financial outcome. It eventually ties into the authors decision as to why he is choosing an alternative path. The clarity of vision and the reasoning is inspiring.

Max Levchin: Daily Routines, Startup Advice, and Working with Elon Musk Max Levchin was the founder of Paypal and since has gone on to achieve great things. In this interview with product hunt he goes into detail about his routines and his life so far. Lots of great advice is provided. I personally liked his take on investing in startups where he said “Team, Team, Team, Market Patterns. Nothing else matters. :)”.

How To Launch A Product: 7 Tips To Drive Demand As entrepreneurs we are always in the process of launching new products or features. This presentation provides a great framework for your next launch.

Reed Hastings: Building an Iconic Company (Video) For the video of the week, I really enjoyed this interview with Reed Hastings. He talks about the Netflix and how they got to where they are now.

Have a great week ahead!