Pay Attention: Using The Power Of Feedback In Business

If you’re not paying attention to where you’re going, you can get seriously hurt. News programs and entertainment programs often showcase the people who make the spotlight by not paying attention to what they’re doing and getting themselves into trouble. Check out the following videos for proof:

If you’re not paying attention, you’re depriving your  feedback system of half of its function. Say you’re busy refining your  marketing  program and you’re getting frustrated with the non-improvement in sales, or sign-ups. What does your data say?

Paying attention is part of the feedback cycle.  Feedback in this sense  is intimately tied to awareness because awareness demands paying attention and interpreting the information that comes in.

Navigation systems  and the code that runs them both undergo rigorous testing protocols to ensure that these machine are pin-point accurate and the codes run flawlessly.  Lives depend on getting the most accurate feedback possible, because the information is used to plot  — and navigate– the real life conditions of transport: airplanes and air traffic, ships and shipping lanes, cars. It works the same for businesses.

It’s remarkably easy to revert to surface-level thinking when you’re doing everyday activities — the demands on us habituate us to be hyper-vigilant about the new things that come in, and so all our attention goes to assessment and handling — not exactly to deep processing. When you’re deluged with incoming emails, phone calls, requests for your help, time, input and presence, sometimes it’s all you can do to just ‘go with the flow.’ Then, in what ever time you have left over, you try to recover. In the long run, this is an unsustainable  practice to keep doing to yourself.

In life, as in business and bingo, you have to actually be present to win. You win by being present and paying attention.

The problem with ‘going with the flow’ is that left for too long, it can bring you to places you never intended to go to at all. Ones where you won’t recognize yourself, places where you gain bitter hind-sight, and places far away from your goals.

People with good working feedback systems get to have an easier time navigating the ups and downs and hurdles that life brings.
This is especially applicable to entrepreneurs and business owners because the work they choose to do doesn’t leave much space for  making the same mistakes again and again. Not with people, not with processes, not with products.

 

The process of using feedback well  follows a logical series of events.  
It’s simple:  Stimulus-response, also know as action- reaction, is the first step. You do something and send it out, you gather  the responses to that something. It could be an e-newsletter, a blog-post, an update to your software, a promotion for your products. You send out something (action/stimulus) and you wait until the replies and reactions come in (response).

The second is data gathering and analysis.
After that, you decide based on the data what your next step will be, and you adjust accordingly. You start the cycle again, every iteration  showing you a little bit more about what to do next, where to go next, so you can get to your goal as smoothly as possible. Sort of like how your car’s GPS can show you the route to a place you’ve never been before, and  how similar apps can help  you spot trouble ahead (traffic, construction, etc.) so you can avoid them by taking other routes. That’s what makes feedback important: Paying attention to feedback gives you salient points to pay attention to in running your operation.

The third ‘step’ — is actually stepping back and assessing any ripple effects from that feedback loop to other feedback loops going on.

 

Nobody works in a vacuum. If you created a business that means you also set up a business structure with a series of interconnected systems inside that help you create your product, process your work, sell it, ship it/send it, and process feedback from customers and clients, as well as handle financial matters.

Adjustments to one system can affect others closest to it, and can mean a successive adjustment throughout. A design change can mean that Marketing needs to make adjustments in their strategies to accommodate the change and communicate it to the customers. If it’s a physical product, that can also affect how shipping and handling is done, as well as adjustments to the guarantee or warranty you set for the redesigned product and possibly the pricing for the now previous version. See?

 

Communication technology is the great leveler. People can do things on their own that previous generations had gate-keepers and big companies for, so we now have things like self-publishing and micro e-retailing. To survive in the competitive environment, you can distinguish yourself from the pack by providing value. Paying attention to the market and the response to your work helps you make better decisions on what important steps to take and what direction to consider.

On getting negative feedback
Develop detachment (and a thicker skin).  Even the hurtful and angry feedback can be used to find out how to improve. If you’re not learning, you’re plateauing. A strong feedback system helps you over time by training you into recognizing important details and hints from the data that comes in.

Related articles:
How To Handle Negative Comments On Your Blog
Why Giving Negative Feedback Is Part Of Good Communication

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