Feedback - The fuel for progressing towards Success
At my final year in the University, the time to implement and submit a final project had come. The fact that I would be doing something which was relatively new to me coupled with the whole bunch of learning I had to do within a limited period of time made it quite a challenge.
The project topic was titled “Design and implementation of an email and multi-user chat system”. Its purpose was to ease communication and transfer of files between the various staff at my department in the University and it was to be designed an implemented by a team made up of four(4) members.
Knowing that the other members of the team were all good friends of mine was quite a relief. Although I was the only one with a bit of programming experience, I considered my self a beginner, while my project partners felt they had got the programmer to implement the software part of the project.
Eventually, after a unanimous decision, I was chosen to be the group leader by other members of our team. It was time to set the stone rolling. I had been so used to working alone as I had always felt working with others tend to slow me down, especially if we weren’t on the same level of understanding, and this presented another challenge.
We decided to have our first meeting where we would decide a name for our app and also identify the strength and weakness of each member so we could delegate appropriately. We also took time out to speak freely about each other and each person was to mention attributes of the other members which they felt would hinder the progress of the work at hand.
We chose to name our app — QC Messenger. One of my negative attribute every member of the team pointed out was my preference for working alone, like I was in a completion with the rest. I was made to understand we had to succeed together on this one. Though the comments on my self-center attribute made me feel unhappy, I had to find ways to eliminate it so that we could achieve our aim.
Thanks to the various comments and responses, we made a decision and each person was delegated with a part of the project. I was saddled with the responsibility of the software implementation of our design and everyone agreed to make good effort to explain their part to others whenever we had our progress report meetings, so everyone could learn about all other parts of the project.
They had always said I was greedy with knowledge, and I had heard severally that teaching consolidate knowledge, and hey, this thing had to work, graduation was on the line here, so I embraced the teaching. Teaching and explaining to my capable best resulted in other members contributing. Most of their contributions were actually feedback to improving on whatever code I had implemented so far or had to implement later on.
With the deadline fast approaching, I was only able to implement the software part to work via the command line interface, though the aim was to have a graphical user interface (GUI).
We went to update our project supervisor on what we had been able to achieve, especially on the software part. He was pretty disgusted that all we could come up with was a command line based solution and stressed how unacceptable it was in these times when we have numerous beautiful GUI based messenger apps. We were asked to do better. Although I was quite pained that he wasn’t satisfied or commended us for our progress, I looked on the positive side and told myself he meant we could do better. My project partners also encouraged me, saying “Come on Azeez, you did command line implementation, we didn’t even believe we would come this far, we believe you can get it done. Don’t give up now.” These words rekindled my dying confidence, I couldn’t let them down, I couldn’t let us down. My hopelessness was gone and replaced with a will to do my best till the very end. To cut short the story, we were eventually able to meet the deadline with a GUI version of our app, though a few functions were still missing, I guess that’s software, it keeps evolving.
I must say, without the various remarks, comments, and criticism, which I find appropriate to term as feedback, from everyone involved at different stages of the work, it most definitely wouldn’t have been a success.
The feedback and my responses and reactions during the entire duration of the project were critical for our success and overcoming the challenges encountered. Control system engineering, a course I did back at the university, even explains that Feed-back loops take the system output into consideration, which enables the system to adjust its performance to meet a desired output response. With the experience from the project, I must say this definition makes more sense now. The various feedback were the fuel to drive the need to meet a desired output, which in this case was Success.
See Feedback as a fuel. Fuel can either be used to power vehicles (you and me) to reach a destination (success) or set vehicles ablaze and destroy them. I also believe how we react and what we decide to do with this fuel called feedback is up to us. Thank you.