Feedback refers to a scenario in which output or happenings from an event in the past produce information which will be taken back to the system for synthesis. This feedback influences future occurrences of the same action that generated feedback or a continuation or developed form of the same phenomenon in the future or present. This is characteristic of most organizational or business systems that form events that are part of a networked chain consisting of effect-and-cause which all form a loop or circuit, such events are said to feedback into themselves. Therefore, feedback is part of most business and organizational systems that shape the performance of organizations-systems are sets of interrelated components or parts that function as one unit in order to attain a common objective.
All organizations strive to improve their performance, and feedback assists the organization’s management in making the necessary adjustments. Feedback is a motivator in the workplace for many people. Reception of positive or negative feedback elicits different actions. The feedback helps the management in making decisions on how to apply it to the job. The reception of feedback and its integration is essential for the success of any organization, and as such parties in organizations should learn to accept all kinds of feedback. The feedback should be analyzed and used in a positive way so as to impact positively on future decision-making.
Establishment of quality management in any business organization needs a clear and comprehensive understanding of the dynamics which determine the organization’s performance and shape the operations of the organization. Proper analysis and understanding of the dynamics of a business and levels of performance helps the management in identifying the bottlenecks that lower efficiency and slow performance enhancement. Identifying the real hindrances of better performance facilitates initiation of appropriate measures, which should address the root cause of the hindrances, instead of empirically observed signs of under-performance, and as a result improve levels of performance (Porter, 1980).
The observed symptoms and signs of under-performance as well as those communicated to the management constitute feedback. There are numerous methods applied in the analysis of any business organization’s performance as well as its dynamics. These methods may include the Nadler Tushman congruence model, Leavitt’s model and the Weisbord six-box model-just to mention but a few. All these models incorporate some aspect of feedback used to get responses from various sectors related to the business so as to initiate constructive reforms within business organizations. Al these models are used to detect shortcomings and help in initiating remedial measures to correct the observed problems.
In this paper the feedback loops in Palm Incorporation shall be identified and explored to reveal how they function and what kind of feedback they generate. According to the congruence model there are three components that constitute the interactive relation in the organization’s system. These are outputs which include individual activities, group activities and the overall performance of the organization; the inputs which include the resources, environment and history of the organization and the transformational process which constitutes the inter-relational evaluation and assessment (Wyman, 2003). The input created by both internal and external environments. This is then synthesized to create the desirable out put that consists of steps to be implemented.
The theory of organizational learning and how it relates to feedback loops
Organizational learning is a field of study in organizational theory which involves the study of theories and models of how organizations adapt after learning from their environment of operation. Learning is part and parcel of an adaptive business organization. According to this theory business organizations are supposed to sense occurring changes and detect signals within their environment of operation and act accordingly in order to adapt to the changing environment (Argryris, 1999).
These signals and changes may be external or internal. Organizational development specialists try to help their clientele to learn through experience and use whatever information is learned as feedback to develop appropriate transformational measures that will enhance better performance. Organizational learning may also constitute individual learning within organizations.
Individual learning falls within the domain of human resources which carries out activities of increasing skills, training the staff, formal education and work experience. The success of any business organization is based on the expertise and knowledge of its workforce, and therefore; individual learning should be fostered as a way to improve organizational performance. Individual learning is a prerequisite to the implementation of organizational learning. There are various models designed to help organizations initiate organizational learning. These include Argyris and Schon (1978), Kim (1993), Bontis and Serenko (2009a), and finally, Bontis and Serenko (2009b). The theory of organizational learning is clearly exemplified by the way in which feedback loops work (Yeung, 1999).
In the first feedback loop, where feedback is generated from inputs in Palm incorporation, the organization has been able to learn and respond from the market demands and response. Clients in the technologically savvy market desire portability and multitasking. The company has been able to learn from this kind of client desires, and thereafter develop portable smartphones with features that are enhanced with extra features which enable clients to use their phones for activities they were unable to do with traditional cell phones. This was the drive behind the design and production of the I-pad. Additionally, Palm Incorporation was able to learn that it has a small capacity of expansion, little market share, smaller network and research potential that would facilitate its better performance. As a result, the company decided to accept entry into a merger with Hewlett Packard in order to expand its research potential and expansion (Edwards, 2010).
These activities are in response to the feedback from the market. Therefore, Palm Incorporation has been able to learn from its environment, and these learning activities have enabled it to take transformational steps. The stagnation of Palm’s smartphone market may have generated a feedback that elicited the need for expansion and search for more resources for research and expansion so as to be able to compete with many other players in the market that had already taken up a bigger share of the smartphone market (Carroll, 2010). The merger between Hewlett Packard and Palm Incorporation may be viewed as a transformational step towards helping Palm incorporation achieve its goal of acquiring a greater market share. The activities undertaken by Palm incorporation indicate that the organization is responsive to signals and changes within its environment.
This can be exemplified by the research and design of its electronic products. The present trend of merging computer based activities to mobile telephony has been part of the biggest quest and research for Palm Incorporation as it tries to create products that will fit the needs of the clients in the mobile telephony market. The first feedback loop offers palm the ability to learn from the market players and clients as to what they desire so that they can tailor their production and products to fit the market requirements. For example the desire to have a smartphone that is compatible to various platforms of software operation is an learning opportunity for Palm that drive its research activities towards developing software that is compatible to various platforms of operation. Similarly, the fact that the company is unable to capture a bigger market share should act as feedback from the second loop that should drive the company towards designing products that can out-compete the smartphones produced by their competitors.
Argryris, C. (1999). On Organizational Learning, second edition. Wiley-Blackwell publishers.
Carroll, T. (2010). Palm's Smartphone Market: Not budging. Retrieved on 4th September, 2010 fromhttp://www.palminfocenter.com/news/9969/palms-smartphone-market-share-not-budging/.
Edwards, C. (2010). Hewlett Packard gets its Hands on Palm. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_19/b4177035181743.htm, on 4th September, 2010.
Porter, E. M. (1980).Competitive Strategy: Techniques for analyzing industries and competitors. Free Press Publishers.
Yeung, K. A. (1999).Organizational Learning Capability. OxfordUniversity Press.
Wyman, O. (2003). The Congruence Model. Retrieved on 4th September, 2010 from http://www.oliverwyman.com/ow/pdf_files/Congruence_Model_INS.pdf
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