Agile has significantly improved our feedback loops with only two small changes to their length and openness.
Like software, agile in essence is subtly different from the typical waterfall mindset of development. However, that subtle difference have big impact on the development process and requires a bigger change in the team’s mindset.
Cycles have become a lot shorter
Shorter not only in time, but also in space. And not only in physcial space, but also in mental space. Cross-functional teams form and sit together to develop the product while passing information and feedback back and forth.
The environment in which the product is being developed often offers tools and resources to allow simulating end-user behavior. That is another important source of feedback.
Probing the end-user experience of the product is also much shorter now. Data collection can be built into the product for various usage and bug analysis. Qualitative feedback comes from end-users directly by inviting them to test new functionality.
Learnings have increased manyfold
Learnings need to be made through systematic and careful analysis of the feedback that has been collected over the iterations from various sources. Deriving hypotheses and setting up experiments with necessary measurments and success criteria are important parts of enabling the making of good learnings.
Most importantly, effective learnings cannot be used in an agile manner without a shared understanding of the domain by all team members.
Domain knowledge, problem-solution fitness, the end-user experience with the product and the quality of that experience can now all be obtained in short cycles and iterated over in matters of hours, days or weeks.
The main benefit of the validated near-immediate feedback is that the development team and their process become one adaptive system. Once a clear mission is collectively shared by that system, the rest follows naturally with our natural tendency to self-organize in the most efficient structures.