Imported from an old blog.
Morning rambling. Take with drugs. Your milage may vary.
Feedback, in some fundamental way, is at the core of a successfully collaborating system. This was the fundamental insight of Wiener and his cybernetics. Whatever else we may think about what it has to say about life, the statement that information dispersal and feedback go hand in hand is one of the major intellectual contributions of the 20th century.
A collaborating system of any kind--ants, people, network services--is made of individual entities producing and consuming information. Individuals are the core contributors to the system. The sum of their amassed contributions may be greater than the parts, and often is, but at base it is the individual pieces and parts that are creating and contributing: having inspiration.
What those pieces and parts create and contribute is shaped, refined and eventually defined by feedback from the rest of the system.
No person is an island.
In an activity group, initial contributions are themselves feedback to some thing in the system: a catalyst. A meme or goal that becomes a leader, or is installed by a leader (which itself could be meme, goal or person). Activity (information) crystallizes around the catalyst, accretes around the growing mass of the signal which is the product (some fun, a paper, a tool, a house, a brand new idea) of the group.
If the growing product is not headed in the right direction how do we know? Feedback. How do we know where to go get headed in the right direction? Feedback. From the system itself.
If the system is insufficiently mature or the initial catalyst insufficiently clear (thus not really a catalyst) the meme, goal or person must be clarified, buttressed, tuned to be a true catalyst. That tuning is feedback, observation from outside the confines of the system, and is leadership.