A missing link in purpose-driven leadership: Feedback loops

 

Have you taken the time to ask your customers, if you create value?
Have you asked your employees, if you create value?
If not, you are missing the link.

 

Control systems – and the feedback loop

control systemSo, this is the engineer in me speaking:

Any system A must have a control system with a feedback loop B in order to listen to the output and calibrate the system. The system must react and adjust reasonably, so that the result is suitably fitting, and not hysterical or with huge inertia. In practical, real-life applications, a great amount of effort is invested in trimming the parameters in such systems.

control system responsAs an example, take your everyday Danfoss thermostat on your radiator. Typically the thermostat is connected to a sensor, giving feedback to the thermostat.

Sometimes the sensor is wrongly placed close to a vent or not calibrated, meaning that opening a window (letting in cold, refreshing air) will provoke the sensor to open the thermostat, resulting in a hot radiator, thereby resulting in cold air from the vent, resulting in a very hot radiator, resulting in even more and even colder air from the vent, resulting in a VERY HOT RADIATOR, … you get the point.

The feedback system and the control method must be suitably calibrated.

 

How to create feedback systems in your purpose-driven organization

Purpose-driven organizations put pride in focusing on both value creation AND profit. The latter is typically measured with KPI’s on top-line, bottom-line, revenue, milestones. The first – the value creation – is harder to monitor, and less often done.

Let’s assume that you know your purpose and what value your creating. (If not, take a look here: Tool: How to create your organizations WHY).

I’ve learned, that the most motivating, encouraging, engaging, and acknowledging element in a purpose-driven organization (and in life) is knowing that your work and effort creates value for the receiver.

I’ve learned, that the most motivating, encouraging, engaging, and acknowledging element in a purpose-driven organization (and in life) is knowing that your work and effort creates value for the receiver.

Now, if you don’t actively seek that feedback, it does not come. You, as a leader, must actively investigate what value you create, and feed that back to the right place, being your employees or yourself.

Here are three ways to do that, that I’ve used with success:

  1. Investigate the employee happiness every Friday
  2. Investigate the customer Net Promoter Score (NPS) monthly or by the end of each project
  3. Setup a meeting between the customer and the employees, so that the employees can see firsthand what value the customer gets from the product and services. Firsthand stories are powerful.

Many other ways exist, though.

 

Act on it

The trick is to calibrate your control system to avoid hysteria (oh, the customer was unhappy, we need to change everything NOW) and avoid inertia (oh, the customer was unhappy, but he always is anyway, so we might develop something next year to accommodate that. Maybe).

You must

  1. look at the feedback,
  2. be transparent about it,
  3. debate it, and
  4. act on it immediately and adapt, but without hysteria.

Adaptable organizations have these 9 characteristics, according to MIX and Gary Hamel (Gary Hamel et al.: “Hackathon Report – Management Innovation eXchange”):

9 principles of adaptable companies

The right amount of adaptability or responsiveness depends on your industry too.

 

What does it take?

PID_Compensation_AnimatedCourage. That’s all.

It takes courage to ask your customers if they want to recommend you to a friend.

It takes courage to ask your customers if they like your product, or if it creates value.

It takes courage to ask your employees how happy they are.

It takes courage to ask your employees if they would recommend you as a leader.

What if they say “no”? That is going to hurt. But worse, what if you don’t ask at all and get no feedback?

You cannot engage your employees without feedback.
You cannot calibrate your work without a feedback loop.

You cannot engage your employees without feedback.
You cannot calibrate your work without a feedback loop.

 

/erik

Photo by Alejandro Escamilla via Unsplash.

About the author: Erik

Erik is an experienced leader, department manager, project/program manager. Master of Science from Technical University of Copenhagen. EBA in cross-cultural project management.

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