A thought for Christmas: How Feedback loops work for your web traffic

Peter Senge

A Christmas message from Tudor Rickards

I noticed today how a decision I made had contributed to a little bit of web traffic (or lack of it), in the build-up to Christmas.

Over the last few days, [Dec 20th-23rd] visits to the Leaderswedeserve site have dropped roughly to half.

I might have become more active, but…

On discovering this, I might have become more active, tweeting furiously, or posting something from a small stock of draft posts kept in reserve for times when stories are hard to come by…


But instead, at first I took the view that if there’s not much traffic, there’s not much point in blogging.

Peter Senge’s feedback loops

It’s a nice example of one of Peter Senge’s feedback loops. A change in inputs lowers outputs which produces further change in inputs and so on. Business down, wait for better times, which (maybe) sends business down further …

Systems theory does work…

Systems theory does work. Although, sometimes action can ‘break the loop’. [Do I hear a faint cry of Bah Humbug from somewhere?. A Happy Christmas, everyone.]

But I did post this, didn’t I?

Well spotted (if there’s anyone out there spotting). Just let’s say it’s a triumph of optimism over rationality. And a way of [b]logging the idea about feedback loops.

6 Responses to A thought for Christmas: How Feedback loops work for your web traffic

  1. The Chinese system of “Five Elements”, Wu Xing models the businessman as a bear. In the winter, a time of “water”, the state of affairs is Yin. Its a time to nourish and rest.

    Yet within yin is the seed of yang. As he snoozes, the bear may meditate on the future, 2012 is the year of the Water Dragon. The dragon is the fire element and the one most associated with leadership, and the water: Water tempers the fire to a degree.

    “Water Dragons are able to see things from other points of view. They don’t have the need to always be right. Their decisions, if well-researched, are usually better since they allow others to become involved”

    How does all this relate to LWD’s statement;

    “Business down, wait for better times, which (maybe) sends business down further .. action can ‘break the loop”

    The action is might be best focused at “another level of recursion” in Stafford Beer’s VSM language — another system with 5 elements with feedback loops.

    Nimble Monkey says: “Increase variety at a higher level of recursion in mid-winter”

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wu_Xing
    [2] http://www.chinesezodiac.com/dragon.php

  2. Dear Nimble Monkey,

    I struggle to penetrate the mysteries of ancient Chinese wisdom. I do see the point of seeking to focus at a different level of recursion of system. I am reading about Group theory at present and hopw for some glimmers of enlightenment…

  3. Paul Hinks says:

    Tudor –

    Many thanks for your thoughts & postings in 201 – they’re very much appreciated.

    I do enjoy reading LWD – you often introduce a personality that I’m not totally familiar with, or new subject area that normally I wouldn’t explore in depth – hopefully you’re happy to continue to share your thoughts in 2012 :o)

    Also hope all readers of the blog are able to enjoy the seasonal period and recharge their batteries for New Year!

    Best wishes to all for the New Year!


  4. Thanks Paul. The next step is maybe for you to think about putting your thoughts into a post for LWD? These do not have to be 500 -600 words. I’m finding shorter items (like this one) a nice alternative. A post on one recent news story is preferred.

    There are further instructions at the top of each post on writing for LWD, and editorial support is always available.

    Best wishes

  5. ..the more i read about the mysteries of ancient Chinese wisdom I find ancient Chinese wisdom criticising ancient Chinese wisdom….

    Chuan Hsu, one of, The Five August Rulers, criticises the work of Three August Ones. He wrote this in 4th Century BC;

    “Their nit-picking philosphies make them like people who go around poking holes in walls and fences, and sowing wild seeds in these places.” [1]

    Where to put the boundaries, and when to make them permeable …. its an interesting field….

    [1] http://www.amazon.com/Essential-Chinese-Mythology-Stories-Change/dp/1855384760

  6. Paul Hinks says:

    Hi Tudor, I’ve emailed your MBS email account with a proposal for a posting – but the email got bounced.

    I’ve just tried again using the internal Blackboard email system – hopefully this will reach you.


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