6 month feedback loops

I met an entrepreneur a few days back.

One of the discussions was about planning for future and stuff like that.

After coming back, I gave it some serious thought. What were my thoughts and plans at these stages:

  • Mar 2011
  • Aug 2011
  • Mar 2012
  • Aug 2012

Looking back, I had hugely varying plans in each of those periods. And like they say, change seems to have been the only permanent thing.

I don’t know about the other entrepreneurs out there, but with me, I know I will change again, probably in 6 months. Hopefully in a positive manner like it has generally been so far.

That’s not bad at all. In a way, its an indication that you’ve grown and matured. While fluctuation and distractions could also lead to changing thoughts every 6 months, my point is more on the lines of more learning and knowledge inducing you to redirect the path in a better than planned manner.

This is especially true with entrepreneurs like me who are learning on the job. For people like us, having concrete plans beyond 6 months into the future is futile.

Make a 6 month plan, step on the gas pedal and execute, make sure you learn a ton in the process and…. be willing to adapt to the new lessons and learnings that you went through in the period.

You should be willing to re-evaluate your plans every 6 months depending on the feedback loops – both positive and negative.

Positive feedback loops are extremely important in the sense that they are what will catapult your company into the next level and beyond. Something is working well, you do more of it, it gets even better and it starts feeding itself. That’s how positive feedback loop generally works.

At the same time, negative feedback loops are very important as well. They are the ones that will point out something is going out of target and causing instability of the system. At that time, you have to pull things back and set the house in order. For eg, if you are eating and you “feel” full, you have to stop. That’s your internal system asking you to stop. Without that negative feedback to stop eating, you wouldn’t be a normal person.

For a startup like ours, where we are still on our discovery path, phasing our growth on the 6 month feedback loop seems to be a much healthier approach than having concrete plans that go poof every 4th month.

Of course, you have a general direction for the company – but how, why, where, when, etc could alter depending on lessons.

To give you an analogy, think of a missile.

You want to hit a moving truck.

What do you target? Not the location for sure, because the truck would have gone by the time your missile lands there.

So you build a feedback loop mechanism.

Every few minutes, you check the position of the target.

If it is on course – that’s a positive feedback. Keep going in the same direction, probably even faster.

If it is misaligned with the target, that’s negative feedback. Change direction and check again. And check again.

Rinse and repeat till you hit the target.

One thought on “6 month feedback loops

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *