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  • Writer's picturePaul Dalton

Engineering Feedback Loops

Updated: Jul 12, 2019

Have you read “Outliers” by Malcom Gladwell?

In this, Gladwell brilliantly describes the visible effects of positive feedback loops on sports stars.

It goes something like… One single factor can be traced as the catalyst for these stars becoming stars. Somewhat surprisingly … It turns out to be the month they were born in. Gladwell masterfully details how, as 6 or 7 year olds, the oldest in an age group, those born closest to the cut off, have an immense advantage over the younger ones, purely because of size and dexterity. This gets misidentified as talent early on and these kids then go on to playing in stronger teams, getting better coaches, nutrition, physical training and more top tier game time… The net effect of all of this is a massive and visible difference in actual ability over time.

It's a cascading effect of positive feedback loops that started as pure luck in this case – and a little genetics…

Fortunately, positive feedback loops can be engineered – consider a smaller, younger kid might have rich parents who sent them for private coaching early on and cause the same cascading effect over time…

Interestingly we see the same in business… Initially, by chance you hand our business card out to the right person at a networking event – she connects you to a great client, you do good work, get top tier referrals, can afford better marketing etc. and viola a cascade of positive feedback loops. It might not be strategic at all, but the results are misinterpreted as excellence and serve as a positive feedback loop just the same.

Again, remember we can engineer this effect… Picture your business as a range of interconnected systems. Starting at initial attraction through marketing efforts through the sale to delivery, perhaps an upsell and right to the point where you gain an excellent referral. Now imagine there exist many points along that system where improvements can be made and a cascade that may follow… For example you engineer an increase of 10% in leads which places you in a position where you can realistically start picking and choosing only your ideal clients, those that you can upsell to over time and that provide fabulous referrals.

The cascading effect of just one change can be massive on your bottom line… now imagine deliberately engineering 4 or 5 of these that multiply the effect.

This is what I do, I map your entire system, looking for opportunities to engineer positive feedback loops… when 4 or 5 are combined, they serve to catapult your business into a completely new space.

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