What are positive feedback loops?
Positive feedback is a process that occurs in a feedback loop in which the effects of a small disturbance on a system include an increase in the magnitude of the perturbation. That is, A produces more of B which in turn produces more of A. In contrast, a system in which the results of a change act to reduce or counteract it has negative feedback. Both concepts play an important role in science and engineering, including biology, chemistry, and cybernetics.
A good example of a simple positive feedback loop is the Laser Eye Surgery Patient Flow, where patients in (A) influences customers (B) which influences patients out (C) which can generate referrals (D) which stimulates more patients in (E).
What are negative feedback loops?
Negative feedback occurs when some function of the output of a system, process, or mechanism is fed back in a manner that tends to reduce the fluctuations in the output, whether caused by changes in the input or by other disturbances.
Whereas positive feedback tends to lead to instability via exponential growth, oscillation or chaotic behavior, negative feedback generally promotes stability. Negative feedback tends to promote a settling to equilibrium, and reduces the effects of perturbations. Negative feedback loops in which just the right amount of correction is applied with optimum timing can be very stable, accurate, and responsive.
Negative feedback is widely used in mechanical and electronic engineering, but it also occurs naturally within living organisms, and can be seen in many other fields from chemistry and economics to physical systems such as the climate. General negative feedback systems are studied in control systems engineering.
What is an example of an external input into a feedback loop?
One example of an external input into a feedback loop we examined is the effect of new technology. When a new laser comes onto the market it will affect those who have access to the technology positively and it will affect those who do not have access to the technology negatively.
If the effect is positive, organisations that are in positive feedback loops with regards to their marketing and sales will be able to leverage the new technology to a greater extent than organisations that are in negative feedback loops.
If the effect is negative, organisations that are in positive feedback loops with regards to their marketing and sales will be better able to withstand the threat from competitors who have the technology than those organisations that are in negative feedback loops.