The Foundation of Business Agility: Feedback Loops

schedule Mar 20th 12:30 PM - 01:15 PM place Grand Ball Room 1

At the core to any agile approach is the ability to manage for uncertainty. This is only possible through a process of continuous learning which requires active feedback loops. Linear approaches are doomed to fail in a world of uncertainty. Feedback incorporates new knowledge which enables learning. The key is maintaining healthy feedback loops which will enable success. An iterative approach with broken feedback loops is similarly doomed.

Not only is this the foundation of business agility, empiricism is the foundation of the scientific method, Shewart-Deming process improvement cycles, and the Lean Startup model. Healthy agile approaches incorporate multivariate closed loop process control.

In the original book on Scrum, Ken Schwaber talks about his discovery of empiricism by trying to sell waterfall solutions to Chemical Engineers at DuPont Chemical. Todd’s background is as a Chemical and Petroleum engineer, so his journey was different. Empiricism was natural for him, so when people started talking about agility it fit nicely with the model he was already using. It was even better when the conversation became about “Business Agility.”

 
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Outline/Structure of the Talk

I start by introducing simple household examples of controls systems. Some examples I use include open loop control with timers like a washing machine, and closed loop with feedback like a thermostat or setting the temperature in a shower.

At this point I look at how feedback loops have been used in the scientific method, Deming-Shewart Cycles, and the Lean Startup.

I progress from here to more complicated examples that involve multi-variable control which is what we face in the real world.

I keep it very pragmatic trying to demystify control systems so that beginners through experts can get value and actionable guidance from this talk.

Learning Outcome

Learn the difference between open loop control and closed loop control

Understand why feedback loops are critical to business agility

Understand how feedback loops are connected to the scientific method, Deming-Shewart Cycles, and the Lean Startup

Learn to look for issues that are distorting or blocking feedback loops

Target Audience

Everyone

Prerequisite

None

schedule Submitted 3 months ago

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