There are certain things in life that are allowed to operate on a feedback system while others are best run on a feed-forward system. Wisdom is in knowing which one to adopt in relation to specific activities.
In a feedback system you embark on an activity without paying so much attention to ensuring the certainty of the outcome. But when the outcome deviates materially from your expectation, you evaluate the outcome, take corrective actions and start the process all over again. This system is akin to a trial and error.
With respect to a feed-forward system, the process starts with an intensive preparation that seeks to pre-determine the outcome of an activity. This system is used when the consequences of not achieving the desired outcome are too grave. In capital-intensive projects, for instance, in order to minimize the risk of loss, investors carry out detailed feasibility studies to determine the economic, financial and technical viability of the projects. It is when the feasibility studies prove satisfactory that funds are committed.
You could also call a feed-forward system a simulation. Examples of feed-forward system include: testing of drugs on animals before production for treating human disease conditions, crash tests on new cars, and stress-testing of production materials. All these tests are carried out because bypassing them would be severely destructive to humans. A multinational pharmaceutical company found guilty of testing polio vaccines on hapless children in Northern Nigeria, which resulted in reported deaths, had to pay monumental compensation to the families of the victims.
Effects of improper system application
Every aspect of human life should run on a feed-forward system because of the adverse consequences of learning after situations have gone awry. Coupled with the adverse consequences is the difficult in reversing unpleasant human life conditions. For instance, there’s hardly anything anyone can do about a 30-year old man who has no employable skills.
The captions one can give to the application of a feedback system to human situations include: lack of preparation, emergency reaction, and reactive mentality, amongst others. You know a man will mess up his life when his philosophy is, “I’ll cross the bridge when I get there”. Such a person’s total disregard for preparation will eventually hurt him and everyone closely related with him.
The effects of running a feedback-based life are evident in the prevalence of the following societal conditions: high and rising unemployment, escalating crime, drug abuse amongst youth, and high incidences of divorce. In fact, almost all the ills in the society are traceable to lack of preparation by the majority.
The ‘How’ of a Feed-Forward System
To fully appreciate the importance of feed-forward system, think of how a car driver in a slow-moving traffic would handle a manual transmission car as he approaches an upward slope. If he were to be guided by a feedback system, he would wait for the car to either come to a halt or be gliding downhill before he chooses the appropriate gear. But you and I know that an experienced driver makes the correct gear selection in anticipation of the slope and thus has a smooth ride.
In the same vein, a life pro runs his life on a feed-forward system making his real-life situation smooth. The lessons learned in the simulation phase prove invaluable in dealing with issues that would otherwise have made the pro’s life rough. Not so with an amateur whose approach to life is trial and error. As a result of his orientation, the amateur experiences a bumpy ride through life.
A feed-forward system enables you avoid the pitfalls of a feedback system because you leverage on other people’s experience. This is possible since there’s hardly any human life experience that is unique. Someone said: “Everything you need for a life change is available.” What you need to transform your life is already in an article, a book, a sermon, or the lyrics of a song. Your responsibility is to search it out.
When you’ve found the ideas you need then try them for size. There’s no law that forbids imitating a result-oriented way of life. As a matter of fact, in the Christian faith, we are encouraged, rather instructed, not to be sluggish but to imitate those who received the promise (a significant life) through faith and patience (Hebrews 6 verse 12).
One of the ways of garnering life ideas is by reading books. My personal experience with books is that there’s hardly any life situation you face that something hasn’t been written on or about. Before I got married in 1998, I read a book, ‘Marriage as God Intended’ by Selwyn Hughes. A few months into marriage I read ‘Communication, Sex and Money’ by Edwin Louis Cole; they both prepared me for the marriage institution. When we started having children I read ‘Raising Your Children for Christ’ authored by Andrew Murray. In my Christian walk, I found Graham Fitzpatrick’s ‘How To Recognize God’s Voice’ invaluable.
Early in our marriage, my wife read two books, ‘Supernatural Childbirth’ by Jackie and Terri Mize, and ‘Everywoman’ by Derek Llewellyn-Jones. She read the books so well she could teach the contents. It was always delightsome to listen to her intelligent discussion with her doctor, a gynaecologist. There was no medical terminology about a woman and her child in relation to pregnancy that my wife didn’t know. Her doctor’s first comment each time she visited the clinic was: “Mrs. Adeniranye, what’s the new thing you’ve read since your last appointment?” My wife never disappointed him as she reeled out new things she discovered through reading. It’s undeniable that these books prepared her for the laborious task of delivering our five lovely children.
On the job, I read a couple of interesting books like ‘Competing for the Future’ by Gary Hamel and C. K. Prahalad, ‘From Third World to First’ by Kuan Lee Yew, Execution by Messrs. Charan, Bossidy and Burck, amongst others, from where I learned strategy, team-building and leadership. One business book that really impacted me was ‘Eyes on Tomorrow’ written by Oscar Schisgall. A colleague lent me the book sometime in 1997. It was a true story of how William Procter and James Gamble built the present multinational company, Procter and Gamble, from a small soap and candle manufacturing business in 1837. That book covers almost all the challenges that any business can face. I recommend it for anyone who has interest in entrepreneurship.
When I was contemplating leaving my job after 171/2 years, I read Robert Kiyosaki’s ‘Before You Quit Your Job’ and ‘Half Time’ written by Bob Buford. ‘Half Time’ was actually recommended by a friend who I had told about the plans to quit my job.
The most important book, however, is The Holy Bible. That is one book that has maintained its relevance throughout human history. If you’re ever asked to choose just one book, it should be The Bible. And if given the opportunity to add another book, making two books, add a dictionary. I will explain why a dictionary in one of the future articles.
There’s really no excuse for not availing yourself the value locked up in books. If you find it difficult to read, you can opt for audio books which you can listen to anywhere with the aid of an iPod or many other portable audio devices.
Having come this far, I suggest you draw up a list of books you’re going to read (in line with your goals) in the next one month and come up with a reading plan you should follow. In the words of Jim Rohn, the reason you must read is because “…the book you don’t read won’t help.” Now, please do me a favour by sharing this article with your friends and colleagues. You can also tell them to subscribe to receive articles on ‘Personal Development for Significant Living’ through the link http://waleadeniranye.com. If you enjoyed this article, please click on the ‘like’ button below. Thank you.