Don’t Forget Your Feedback Loop

If you ever delve into systems analysis you will find wide variety in the definition and application of something called the “feedback loop”. The specifics can vary wildly depending on the type of system, however in every feedback loop, information about the effect of some action (the input data) is by some mechanism returned to the system, and in general that feedback can be defined by whether it is positive or negative; note the positive or negative definition is determined by the effect the information (the input) has on the system, not the data itself.

What can be fascinating is that in most systems inputting only positive feedback will destroy the system as quickly as only negative feedback – by upsetting the system balance and sending it out of control.

Writers have appropriated this concept as a development tool. If you have any interest in studying the art of writing (and you should if you want to be in the licensing business) you will soon run across references to a writer’s “feedback loop”. I suggest that artists should also co-opt it as a tool of their own, because obtaining direct feedback is key to improving what you do. And I’m not talking about your Grandma or fellow artists telling you how pretty something is. You want to seek out and embrace the negative feedback as well. In a system negative feedback leads to adaptive behavior and the seeking of equilibrium, and that prolongs the life of the system – correctly handled, it can do the same for your career.

It is all in how you look at it – consider all feedback an opportunity to polish your skills. If they like it, use that as inspiration and let it power your offering. If they don’t like it, put aside the emotional response (difficult as that is) and try to find out why so the next time you can do better. Either way try to get details about what did or did not work for someone. Get feedback from everybody you can, be shameless about seeking it and then be sure to LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN when you do find it.

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