Looking to the Future with Feedforward

I heard the term ‘feedforward’ for the first time listening to a Marshall Goldsmith audiobook. Feedforward provides the opportunity to share thoughts, ideas or perspective to improve an outcome in the future. In other words, leaving the past in the past and turning the page on the opportunity of a new day.

This concept is designed to work with individuals and groups. For example, you may ask your team for feedforward by identifying ways you can better interact with them. As Goldsmith suggests, positioning the ask to ensure that the focus is on moving forward and not living in the past helps tremendously. When asked for feedforward, you move beyond the time your feelings were hurt a year ago in order to help a colleague genuinely seeking to improve himself or herself.

Take a moment and reread that last sentence. Now think of some negative feelings you’re carrying about a colleague regarding something that happened a week, a month or a year ago. Until you free yourself of the feelings associated with the past, you cannot provide meaningful guidance for a colleague to modify future behavior. It will inhibit your relationship with this person as long as you hold onto it. That’s my nice way of saying: time to let it go.

We recently conducted Feedforward meetings in our office in preparation for the fourth quarter. Our activity kicks it up a notch in every way during the latter part of the year, and we wanted to hear from our team to determine how best to prepare as it approaches. We didn’t have an hour long complaint session about what went wrong last year; we did discuss what we could do more effectively this year. The result was generation of new ideas and opportunities to help each other.

Looking to the past guides the future by informing what we need to do differently. Living in the past and harboring anger and frustration about what cannot be changed limits us. Think about incorporating feedforward in your organization to mindfully improve future outcomes.