Lead Dev 2016 London: How to Make a Sandwich

A talk about feedback.

1. What is feedback ?

Formalised in Systems Theory. Feedback makes the difference between a simple system (input/output) and an dynamic system (with a feedback loop with a delay).

An adaptive system rely on feedback

Types of feedback:

  • reinforcing feeback:
    • accelerating loop: amplifies behaviour (ex financial aid, addiction). “shiften the burden”
    • diminushing loop: suppresses behaviour (ex resource starvation). “tragedy of the commons”
  • stabilizing feedback: balancing loop. Tends towards stable goal. (ex cooperation) “limits to growth”
  • oscillating feedback: trashing loop (ex shower control, the beer game). “boom and burst”. it needs a delay to settle

Timing is everything

  • small, frequent better than large and infrequent
  • delay increases “drift”:
    • reduces system responsiveness
    • limits options
    • increase processing effort

This is why “lean operation” prefer small batch size

Why do we need feedback ?

Positive reasons:

  • to improve, modify behaviour
  • for help

Negative reasons:

  • for recognition, validation

Why do we offer feedback ?

Positive reasons:

  • improve the system of work
  • model a culture of encouraging feedback

Negative reasons:

  • to control others
  • to demonstrate our superior knowledge

-> Question why do you offer feedback

Feedback is a system

There is no point in hearing feedback if there is no action.

Cycle of feedback:

  • offered or sought
  • heard
  • actionned

2. delivering feedback

It is a learnable skill.

  • it should be about behaviour, not about you.
  • SBI model (Situation Behaviour Impact)
    • Situation: don’t go on a personal level. Use only specificts (“in that situation, …”)
    • Behaviour: avoid judging words. “what did you do ?”
    • Impact: impact on me. “I felt like…”"

also see: the ladder of inference (use different filters when talking to different people on an inconcient level)

3. Structure your feedback

Build trust.

  • porpoise feedback (rewards)
    • example: training dolphins for doing tricks
    • it is just kindness
    • offer positive specific regard
    • (assume that) everything else will self connect
    • the best way to interract with a new group
  • sandwich feedback
    • offer positive specific regard (“I noticed that…”)
    • offer a growing edge
    • end up with general positive regard (establishes safety)
  • “atkins” feedback: once you have established trust
    • offer a growing edge

4. Receiving feedback

  • Say “thank you”. There is no step 2.
  • think about what was positive in that feedback
  • reverse engineer the SBI

5. Conclusion

  • feedback affects the system
  • be honest about your own motives
  • pratice giving/recieving feedback
  • always say “thank you”