Shorter Feedback is not Always Bett [Beck]

If the only good thing that ever comes out of Facebook Notes, is more insight into Kent Beck’s head — I’d still say that Facebook made a worthwhile investment.

Shorter Feedback is not Always Bett

It’s a short read that is best summarized by this quote:

Improvements in controlling systems have outstripped improvements in observation. Under the influence of “shorter is better”, the temptation is to continue to shorten the control loop, but that results in a loss of control.

At the macro level, many of us are working to change entrenched, slow-moving systems. We fight Inertia, our arch-enemy with experimentation, continuous improvement and iteration. But our ability to fight it effectively depends not only on how quickly we can make changes, but also on how quickly we can observe their impact. Ignoring the latter constraint can easily lead to chaos.

More specifically in the “people domain”, this observation highlights some fundamental challenges with the growing trend of abandoning traditional annual/bi-annual/quarterly “performance reviews” and replacing them with a “continuous feedback” scheme. It suggests that the latter may miss out on valuable patterns and issues that require longer observation and reflection time in order to detect.