When working through challenges it’s important to remember that “rear view mirrors are intentionally smaller than windshields.” A common challenge for many people is giving and receiving feedback. Feedback is essential for improving performance and growing. And, while feedback is important, much like rear view mirrors, its focus is on the past.
Marshall Goldsmith, the author of “What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There” – introduced a concept called “feedforward“. Feedforward is future and solution focused. Whereas feedback can be somewhat uncomfortable, feedforward is often fun and helps people make positive changes.
Here is how it works:
Identify at least one other person to participate with you in the exercise
- If you are the seeker of feedforward – identify something you would like to change and ask for feedforward.
(For example – “I’d like to become a better listener. Could you help me with feedforward?”)
- If you are the person providingfeedforward – provide two suggestions to make a positive change. The suggestions should be short, specific and not focused on feedback. Resist the urge to focus on yourself and tell “remember when” stories. (For Example: “Here are two suggestions. 1. Put your smart phone away when listening and 2. Repeat back what you think you hear” )
- As the receiver of feedforward, simply write down the suggestions and say thank you. Try not to argue or think of reasons why the suggestions won’t work. The more people involved, the more suggestions you have to help you make a positive change.
- This tool works great as a team-building exercise. Make it a goal for people to connect with as many people in the room – or if your team is facing a tough challenge as a group, focus on feedforward together.