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Is the Feedback Loop Worth the Time?

John Brothers blogged an interesting snippet from a conversation last week between Mary Poppendieck, co-author of the book Lean Software Development and Robert Bogue,   Microsoft MVP. Drawn from the Agile Project Management newsgroup, it pointed out two different stances on the cost and value of "frequent feedback", a key component of Lean and Agile methodologies.

In her post, Mary used stories to illustrated how rapid feedback, by allowing teams to respond to the unexpected, has provided competitive edge to computer manufacturer Dell and clothing manufacturer Zara. Mary maintained that the same is true for businesses creating or heavily reliant on software in a world of rapid change. She said:
... I don’t think your McDonalds analogy is correct – repeatable, predictable, fast performance is most certainly NOT inevitably tied to mediocre results.  There are a multitude of companies that have found a way to have speed, quality, and low cost all at the same time – look at Google for a software example.
Another conversation has been going on in parallel on the ScrumDevelopment newsgroup, where experienced coaches Diana Larsen, Ron Jeffries and Brad Appleton all agree that the feedback loop is the key to getting the real benefits of Agile work.

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