Inspired by the Book Getting Things Done (GTD), my training and experience in control systems, Systems Engineering, and process improvement, there are two classes of thinkers when it comes to decision making.
The Open Loop thinker assert they are efficient in that they only do what they need to in order to get what they want. The classic is why estimate our work, let's just start coding, estimates are waste of time. The Open Loop process really says a waste of MY time, forget about those paying me, or those accountable for balancing the budget in exchange for the value produced by my work.
The Closed loop thinker consider themselves responsible and they do more than they need to for the greater good. In the development case, the greater good is th good of the organization providing their salary. That salary comes of course, from customer, who for goods or services at a competitive proThe open looper sees the immediate result and upon achieving the desired result, wanders off to find something else of interest. The closed looper sees not only the result, but the effect on others, the need to repeat the result again in the future and everything along the way to that result that could be improved.
The GTD paradigm introduces the notion of Closing the Loops. The idea of closing the loop means you're not DONE until you've returned your environment to a stable state. This means the following conditions must be present:
- We know what DONE looks like in units of measure meaningful to the decision makers, not just those providing the solution.
- We have a steering target that guides us along the path to DONE.
- We have measures of actual progress to plan, that produce error signals we can use to take corrective actions to stay in the path toward DONE.
- We have corrective action plans to correct our path to assure, to some level of confidence, we are going to Land Soft on or before the day the needed capabilities are NEEDED, for the cost needed to meet the business objectives.
This of course is the definition of Close Loop control. Open Loop control has no steering target, no corrective action process - the Closed part of Closed Loop control - and no mechanism to forecast the estimate to complete. To close the loop, requires not only measuring past performance, but establishing the Target performance needed to shown up on time, on budget, with the needed capabilities.
This target performance defines what the performance needs to be at each point in time to meet the planned delivery, at the planned cost, with the planned capabilities. Along the way, actual measures of performance close the loop by generating an error signal used to take corrective actions to stay on plan.