Thursday, April 21, 2011

Teamwork and Feedback

Many years ago I learned an important lesson studying electronics in the Navy. When they wanted to turn a radar antenna they had to apply an electric signal telling the antenna to turn, but it was also necessary to get an electrical feedback signal indicating how far the antenna had already turned in order to gently bring it to a stop. I remember that the amount of feedback had to be carefully adjusted or the antenna would jerk back and forth. With just the right amount of feedback the antenna turned smoothly.

Teamwork involves a number of people working together toward a specific goal. To be effective, teams also need feedback, but getting just the right amount isn’t always easy. In our modern world, communication is so good that it is easy to get too much feedback. If the quarterback of a football team had to deal with the opinions of the crowd before each play, football would get pretty jerky.

Today in democratic governments, such as ours, leaders receive an overwhelming amount of feedback. Free speech is important, informed opinions precious and accurate data vital, but gifted leaders are required who are able to courageously sift through all the information and judiciously apply what is important. We are currently going through a period when learning how to deal with feedback overload in government is part of continuing creation. As a result, democracy will tend to be a bit jerky for awhile.

Wisdom is found in prayer.
Robert C. Frank