Escalating Feedback Loops introduction

Nov 11, 2021 3 min read
Escalating Feedback Loops introduction
“This is insane! My calendar is full of meetings already. How am I supposed to fit another seventeen reviews into my schedule?”

Did you have a similar thought looking at this diagram visualizing  our Practice #5 “Introduce Feedback Loops”? Don’t worry! If you plan to  improve your work using the Kanban Maturity Model, adding additional meetings into your calendar will be the last thing you will be asked for.

First recognize that each stack of meetings and reviews in the  diagram represents the same meeting or review performed at a different  level of maturity, a different level of fidelity, each time improving  in scope, scale, professionalism, facts & data, and action-oriented  decision making. So, there aren’t 17 meetings or reviews, there are only  7 identified feedback loops in the Kanban Method. Your job is to find  the lowest resistance approach to implementing each of them given what  you already have.

Let me take you through the steps and questions you should consider before doing so.

The first set of questions:

Do I have this feedback loop already? Should we recognize it for what it is and just tune it up a bit?

It’s quick and easy. The feedback loop exists already, and it has its  cadence. People are used to it, no additional calendar-messing  activities have to be taken. Simply adjust the agenda and the focus of  the discussion and the decision made.

Do I have an alternative (that can be repurposed)?

First, verify existing meetings and reviews. Do you practice Daily  Stand-ups or Retrospectives? That’s great! Don’t rename them just to  feel more kanbanized. It’s totally fine to keep an alternative, simply  adjust its focus, agenda, and anticipated outcomes.

Do any of them require improving?

To start, look at the Feedback Loops descriptions in the “Kanban Maturity Model” or on  Do you think your existing meeting or review would benefit from some  KMM improvements? Introduce them without changing anything else in the  formal name or cadence of these appointments (if not absolutely  required).

The second set of questions:

If you answered “no” to the first two questions, and your assessment says that the new Feedback Loop is required, ask yourself:

Can I merge this feedback loop into any existing meeting or review?

One of the most popular feedback loops which trainees start  practicing after completing the Kanban System Design class is Blocker  Clustering. Very often, however, they don’t experience that many  blockers to organize a separate conversation about them, but on the  other hand, they don’t want to keep the analysis a few months  separated.

The good practice in such a situation will be merging the blocker  clustering and discussion into another loop that exists already, e.g.,  your improvements discussions or flow reviews.

If you answered “no” and you see that you need to book a new timeslot in the calendar:

Can I merge two or more new feedback loops?

This one is very similar to the example described above, but you  merge new reviews into one. In Mauvisoft, we conduct the Service Request  Review and the Service Delivery Review at the same time due to the  number of items in progress and the actors involved in both parts of the  system.

Merging several feedback mechanisms, several meetings and reviews  together is a common practice in small-scale implementations and smaller  organizations. The full set of 7 makes the most sense in organizations  numbering several hundred or thousands of people.

If the answer is “no” again then, and only then, create a new, separate meeting or review.

Don’t forget!

Feedback Loops are not limited to the time you and your colleagues spend in the meeting rooms!

Look around at the elements of your environment that talk to you (sometimes more, sometimes less metaphorically) like:

  • Kanban boards
  • Metrics
  • Customer surveys
  • Your colleagues sending instant messages

Most importantly, do not forget about the underlying question: does it really have to be a meeting?

(Source of an image:—the-search-for-the-happy-grail/)

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