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These notes were first presented at The Developing Group 4 June 2005

Feedback Loops

Penny Tompkins and James Lawley

1. Contents

2. What is a Feedback Loop?

  • ‘Feedback’ has two meanings
  • Diagram 1 - A simple feedback loop
  • Diagram 2 - Ways feedback loops are not established or maintained
  • Diagram 3 (Part 1 and 2) - The interior/exterior perspective

3. Ten Principles — Feedback Loops:
  1. Are what make complex-adaptive systems adaptive.
  2. Involve “circular or more complex chains of causation”.
  3. Are a pattern of organisation.
  4. Involve the ‘originator’ adapting to the effects of its own behaviour.
  5. Involve attempting to satisfy a value or achieve a purpose.
  6. Cross physical boundaries.
  7. Involve cycle time and delay.
  8. Are of two types.
  9. Involve thresholds.
  10. Operate at multiple levels simultaneously.

4. What difference does it make to think in terms of feedback loops?
  • 14 answers
  • Diagram 4: Oscillation between spoon feeding and giving responsibility

5. Appendix
  • Associations with other models
  • References

Penny Tompkins & James Lawley
Penny and James are supervising neurolinguistic psychotherapists – first registered with the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy in 1993 – coaches in business, certified NLP trainers, and founders of The Developing Company.

They have provided consultancy to organisations as diverse as GlaxoSmithKline, Yale University Child Study Center, NASA Goddard Space Center and the Findhorn Spiritual Community in Northern Scotland.

Their book,
Metaphors in Mind
was the first comprehensive guide to Symbolic Modelling using the Clean Language of David Grove. An annotated training DVD, A Strange and Strong Sensation demonstrates their work in a live session. James has also written (with Marian Way) the first book dedicated to Clean Space: Insights in Space. Between them Penny and James have published over 200 articles and blogs freely available on their website:
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James Lawley
Penny Tompkins

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