‘FEEDBACK’: NEITHER NOURISHMENT NOR SUPPORT

The insidious cleverness of ‘Newspeak’, the official language of Oceania in Orwell’s ‘1984’, is that it renders the very act of thinking independently, or critically, impossible.

Business jargon – sometimes useful, often funny or obfuscating, surely not dangerous – may be gradually achieving the very same effect.

Admit it: you probably don’t even register the emptiness of words like ‘competencies’, ‘stakeholders’, ‘issues’, or ‘deliverables’ any more, do you?

I caught myself saying ‘drill down’ the other day and had to pause and concentrate to recall the simpler ‘look at in more detail’.

Let us ponder the word ‘feedback’.

We know that it comes from the world of electronics.

The outputs from a system are …er,,,,fed back into the system’s inputs to affect that output ( a thermostat, the electronics of a jet engine etc) which conjures an image of a self-correcting machine that has cleverly baked into its very structure the constant improvement of its own performance.

Stop right there.

The performance here is pre-defined and repetitive.

The feedback cannot include any new or created signals.

Which means new truths and facts.

And we’re using this concept model for communities of people?

In our volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world?

Never has independent, critical and creative contribution from everyone in an organisation been needed more.

This ‘feedback’ notion is turning too many activities – from job evaluations to customer service experiences – into joyless, deadened, mechanistic form-filling processes.

And sometimes into dangerously inadequate processes.

There is no room for data that is outside previous experience in a feedback loop.

This word has been used, amongst other jargon words, many times this week.

In statements issued by Oxfam.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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