Process, tools, . . . and feedback,



Edge jointing a length of mahogany is no big deal with the right tools. Unfortunately, it took me a while to learn the trick. I’d had a collection of junker handplanes for years, and always left them in the drawer for a variety of reasons. Bad sole, needed truing, never enough time. Bad blade that wouldn’t square up, or hold a decent edge. In time I finally bought a new Veritas plane with A2 blades. Sheesh!

OK, clamp down, sight it, take a few passes to find the highs and lows and get it kinda square with the world, then sing through a square, true and straight new face in just a few strokes, . . . Wow! The difference lay partly in the tool, but mostly in the holding. The feedback is immediate as you feel the bite, the grain run and the geometry of the edge on each stroke. You can hear the blade whisper through the grain. A bit of throat adjustment in the beginning and the result is amazing. Straight, true and quiet. Soft shavings without ear plugs. The perfect cordless tool!

Blade micro-bevel

Blade micro-bevel

Tool and process are so closely linked that feedback is both immediate and of a very high quality. Feedback enables the process, providing highly accurate information regarding the configuration of the tool and its use. A bit of knowledge gained by understanding both tool and process allows high levels of control over both. This linkage is so closely coupled as to be almost inseparable.

Can the scale of the process-tool relationship expand across an enterprise to validate organizational structure? Or even the business model? As the scale expands, the feedback loop on performance also stretches. Analysis of metrics measuring performance has difficulty with the qualitative aspects of any system dependent on relationships. Often, months or years can pass until the weaknesses and fault-lines are exposed and opportunities for adjustment within the organization can be lost.

The complexity of understanding the feedback in a complex system can overshadow the ability to adjust the throat, or touch up the blade’s edge to improve the process and the quality of the final cut. With success depending on both the feedback and the flexibility of the tools and the process, then any adjustment also calls for judgement in understanding that feedback. Therein lies the skill.

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