My friend Jim Matheson, who is a superlative pilot in addition to being a great thinker (and doer) when it comes to anything related to the art and science of bringing cool stuff to life, wrote an intriguing blog post about the joy that flying brings to his life. Given a day job doesn’t provide timely feedback for any of his big decisions, flying a plane is anything but; every action has an immediate feedback loop, and he derives great satisfaction from managing those feedback loops in order to stay in on top of the plane.
Of course, it’s about much more than flying. On the subject of designing business ventures, Jim makes the following point:
… how do you create intermediate feedback
loops in activities that are inherently not given to them so that you
can gain better insights into the distant future outcome of an current
activity and make mid-point course corrections which can ensure
ultimate success? And in situations where there
is much more immediate feedback, how do you make better initial input
decisions by gaining critical information a priori or perhaps utilize
simulated training so that the feedback seems less mercurial and
ultimate outcomes less surprising?
Two fantastic questions. It’s something absolutely critical when it comes to creating ventures in situations of uncertainy — designing things so that you get adequate feedback so that you know what’s going on when you need to know what’s going on, but not so much that it all seems like noise.
The Canadian government encourages major projects to use RMAFs (Results-based Management and Accountability Frameworks). These require creating a logic model or theory of change regarding the policy initiative. By breaking down the process through which change occurs into smaller elements, short-term indicators for measuring the effectiveness of soft or long-term change can be identified.