Dynamic Feedback Loops

Marilyn SanfordsmartPRENEUR Blog Series

Agile Workflow

In 2017, I launched a start-up, LincEdge.  My goal was to create a fast, dependable, high quality, source of JIT labour in the Construction Industry.   That’s when I was introduced to Agile, which I’d incorrectly understood was confined to software development.

Agile is a rhythm of workflow, that is rigid and disciplined and that creates feedback loops based on expectations set during work sprints.  Agile is a derivative of a Japanese style of work called Kanban Principles adopted and employed by Toyota in the 1940s.   The chart below outlines the basic workflow. 

“You can start building your Kanban system by setting up the most straightforward Kanban board with three basic columns – “Requested”, “In Progress” and “Done”. When constructed, managed, and functioning correctly, it serves as a real-time information repository, highlighting bottlenecks within the system and anything else that might interrupt smooth working practices.”

I encourage you to check this out.  I understand these principles are currently being used in the Construction Industry.  Trello is a tool that can be utilized to manage the workflow, making it very easy to integrate and manage all levels of work.  It is a tool used by more and more organizations and is a way to easily create a Kanban Board. 

Keep Your Team Connected

Additionally, the rhythm that these systems encourage, is a ritual of weekly meetings, which is integral to Agile.  This is especially useful across complex workflows.  These meetings are scheduled to accommodate workflow so there is no need to wait for a job or task to be completed.  Rather this is often done weekly with workflow reviewed by key stakeholders. In these meetings, work is updated with adjustments made from the prior week’s learnings.   This keeps the team connected and responsive to work expectations, based on specific well-defined work expected to be completed within the next week.  These reviews also identify bottlenecks that may impact timelines, ensuring the right priorities and keeping the workflow moving.  

Feedback Loops

Whatever your tools, creating a regime of feedback loops, helps maintain a culture of improvement and commitment to effective change.  Feedback loops are both positive and negative.  Positive loops help to identify opportunities for improvement and to reinforce what is working within the firm.  They are based on employee input intended to identify opportunities for improvement within “… the work environment, company operations, or internal functions and processes. This can include formal interviews, onboarding, or exit interviews – or surveys with multiple choice and/or open-ended questions. Or it can be informal, allowing employees to offer regular complaints or write them anonymously.” Learn more about Feedback Loops in this article.

Negative feedback loops are directed towards the customer, encouraging their input through tools such as interviews, or questionnaires.  “….a recent survey of leading product managers says that over 50% of their new products and features are motivated by customer feedback”. “…customer service… is extremely important to customers, with 32% of consumers saying they would leave a company after just one bad experience”.

Feedback loops are a critical and informative tool to implement as part of your commitment to excellence. Feedback loops are a defining characteristic of any intelligent system, whether that’s a person, a group, or a company.

About the Author

Marilyn Sanford

Marilyn is a Professional Accountant. She spent 23 years running trade based businesses, offering Low Voltage Custom Integration solutions to demanding and discriminating customers for high end residences and businesses. She has served on boards, taught in her Industry and is a Fellow of the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA). Marilyn Co—founded Smart fx in 1992, merged with La Scala in 2000 and later acquired LaScaIa in 2007. Over the years running a custom installation business, she learned what it takes to run a profitable business dependent on construction timelines. These insights and lessons learned, delivering ‘skilled labour’ as a primary service offering, were the seeds that grew the LincEdge concept.