The Feedback Loop

How to use fighter pilot techniques to execute better meetings.

You might be surprised to know that meeting planners and F-16 fighter pilots have much in common. Both operate at Mach 2 (twice the speed of sound) in high-stress, rapidly changing environments. Pilots lead missions and planners lead meetings where they constantly encounter people ready to shoot them down for the smallest mistake. Both rely on “wingmen” to keep them in the air, and both know that their roles in successful missions are likely to go unnoticed, but that a slight error or oversight could have devastating consequences.

Since change is a constant in the world of aerial combat, fighter pilots have developed a cadence, or rhythm, that ensures peak performance every time they fly. It drives a continuous culture of improvement. This model is known as the “Feedback Loop.” Built on a solid foundation of training, the Feedback Loop mandates that pilots conduct a briefing immediately prior to every mission to ensure that all wingmen are aligned and flying in formation. The Feedback Loop also requires a debrief immediately following any missions to make sure that fighter pilots learn from their victories as well as their mistakes and improve every single day. This series of articles (the second appears in the January 2014 issue) will show you how these two critical steps will help you bring more control and sanity to the otherwise insane world that we call meeting planning.

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