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The Feedback Loop

Successful businesses always start with great leadership.  Most great leaders are also great communicators.  For fighter pilots, a carefully-constructed and well-delivered briefing is the best way to communicate a plan to a team, and vastly increases the likelihood of flying in formation and achieving mission success.  Business leaders can use these same communication tools in their organizations to create alignment with their people and drive better results.

The Feedback Loop

The Feedback Loop is a battle-tested system or process that fighter pilots use to insure peak performance in the highly demanding world of aerial combat.  Instituting a feedback loop with any organization where performance truly matters is also an impactful way to create a culture of accountability and continuous improvement.

For fighter pilots, the Feedback Loop starts by conducting a briefing prior to every mission.  This preflight briefing ensures that the team is crystal clear on mission objectives, and also understands the role that each pilot will play to achieve those objectives.  Even though hours or days may have been spent planning a tactical mission, a Briefing of the plan just before execution dramatically increases the likelihood of team alignment and mission success.

With that said, no mission ever goes perfectly, and fighter pilots always call time out after their missions to hold a Debrief where the sole focus is to learn and get better.

Business teams can apply the Feedback Loop to their own organizations and reap significant benefits.  Whether applied to a key sales pitch, a board meeting or team dynamics at a trade show or client dinner,the Feedback Loop is a simple, combat-proven technique to make sure your team is aligned, flying in formation, and getting just a little bit better every single day.

The Briefing

There is a famous saying among fighter pilots that states: “As goes the briefing, so goes the mission.”  For business people, this could translate to “as goes the briefing so goes the day, so goes the week, so goes the meeting.”  The concept of briefing is simple; it assumes that you may be the smartest businessperson in your field, with great plans and ideas in your head, but if you don’t find a way to communicate your plans to your team and your customers, you’ll be flying solo, and so will your people.  Pilots always conduct a clear, concise briefing just before each mission to restate the mission objectives, identify key threats that could prevent accomplishing those objectives, and communicate the roles and responsibilities that each flight member must play to overcome those threats and accomplish the objectives.

Briefings also give leaders the opportunity to discuss contingency planning, so if things don’t go as expected, the team can react quickly and achieve mission success.  Business leaders can use this tool of Briefing to clearly communicate their own objectives and ensure that team members are aligned and ‘flying in formation.’

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The Debrief

It is an often stated adage that “no fighter pilot has ever flown the perfect mission.”  It is also fair to say that no business leader will ever have the perfect day, week, meeting or event. Because we accept this fact, when a tactical mission is completed, fighter pilots immediately conduct a Debrief, so we can learn from our mistakes and our successes and drive a culture of continuous improvement. In an aviator’s Debrief, we first create a safe environment so all flight members recognize that Debrief is about learning and getting better.  We then review the mission objectives that were laid out in the preflight Briefing and compare our actual results to the stated objectives. This Feedback Loop allows us to focus our energy on what we said we wanted to accomplish, and creates an environment of learning and accountability. Our Debriefs end with the leader recapping key lessons learned from today’s mission and summarizing next steps to make sure today’s lessons are incorporated into tomorrow’s plans.

Peak Performance

Business Leaders can incorporate a Feedback Loop of regular Briefing and Debriefing into their daily and weekly routines as a surefire way to drive better results, accelerate learning, and delight their customers.  Mach2 Consulting has helped many teams around the world realize their maximum potential and achieve Peak Performance.Please contact us to see how we can help yours.

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