Feedback loops

You have spent some time working in front of your computer. You start to feel ready with the task at hand, and what do you want then? You would love some feedback! Do you want the feedback immediately, or do you feel that it can wait for a couple of weeks? Of course you want the feedback right away.

This is why we should strive to have as short feedback loops as possible.


Do you see, it look almost like a smiley 🙂

You have done something and are ready with it (green box), now you hand it over to another person in the process (pink box) and hope for quick feedback. The first hand-over is usually fairly quick (you send an email, you send out a code review etc.). But then you can, if you are unlucky, have to sit around and wait for the feedback. You want the feedback right away if possible, while you still have the context in your head (to prevent context switching).

Why do you want feedback then? Because feedback is the creator of knowledge! Is the work that I did good enough, or am I on the wrong path and need to do corrections. Things like that you don’t know for yourself (after a while you will of course get a sense for it, but if you constantly working in ”unknown territories” you can’t really tell).

What happens if you don’t get the feedback quickly? You end up in the vicious circle.


To be super pedagogical this picture whould have looked like a sad smiley. But I couldn’t work that one out, do you have any ideas?

If you only receive slow feedback, you will get delays. With delay you are facing more work, and with that you have a higher number of work in process, that in turn gives slow feedback, on and on into eternity (well hopefully not). If you get stuck here, you need to break out of the vicious circle! You need to fight a bit for this, ask the other person, can you have a look at this right away? If not possible, complete as much as you can for one task before you switch to another (break down tasks into smaller pieces that you can use as milestones).

To conclude, I have this ”super short manifesto” that you can use as a rule of thumb.

Instant feedback > instant coffee

Meaning that you should strive for instant feedback over going and have a cup of  instant coffee (or what type of beverage you prefer). I.e., postponing the feedback until you have forgotten the context, have started to work with other stuff and are forced to do context switching back when you finally receive the feedback.


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