Most successful technology companies leverage feedback loops to continuously improve their products. In other words, the company sets a long-term goal, selects metrics to measure progress towards that goal, and conducts rapid experimentation on their products to optimize those metrics until the goal is achieved.
This works really well. Data-driven companies tend to outperform their competition. Through feedback loops and rapid experimentation Facebook is able to make us spend more time in their apps, Google is able to make us do more searches and Amazon is able to make us buy more products.
But these feedback loops are in service of the technology and the goals of the company that created it, not the individuals using it.
As users, we have very different long-term goals. We want to learn a new skill, strengthen our relationships, or improve our health and well-being. The technology products we use aren’t being optimized to help us achieve these goals. In many cases they’re working against us.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this problem lately. Why can’t we use technology to help us solve this? Why can’t we use technology to help us more clearly define our long-term personal goals and setup feedback loops to help us rapidly achieve them? We have some of these capabilities in the health and fitness space, but the existing solutions seem too narrow and single-purpose. We need broader solutions that can help us evaluate tradeoffs in all the decisions we make throughout the day.
If we could effectively define our long-term goals and establish measurable feedback loops, we could then broadcast this information to all the technology products we use. I have to think it would be in the company’s best interest to optimize their products for helping us achieve our goals as well as theirs. Because if they helped us achieve our goals, we would likely become more loyal to them and use their products more. And if our goals are more aligned with the technology products we use, they can begin working for us instead of the other way around.
What if Google optimized their search results to help you develop deeper knowledge in an area you were interested in learning about?
What if Facebook optimized their news feed to help you form stronger relationships with the people you care most about?
What if Amazon optimized their site to help you purchase only the products that will help you live a healthier and happier life?