Friday, 2 November 2012

FeedForward - Enough of What HAS BEEN!

Noted business thinker and coach Marshall Goldsmith introduced a concept called "Feedforward" in his book, What Got You Here Won't Get You There. Instead of the more commonplace Feedback, which looks at what has happened or what we have done, Feedforward is more future oriented. It actively asks for ideas that one can put into practice going forward. By shifting the focus away from history, this takes away much of the perceived negativity that is associated with feedback — criticism and the tendency to kill the messenger. 

Instead of, “What did I do wrong?”   feedforward asks, “I am trying to improve in this area. What kinds of things might I do in the future to improve in this area?”

This is a very powerful approach, and works because, while they don’t particularly like hearing criticism, most people love getting ideas for the future. If changing a certain type of behavior is important to them, they will welcome any new ideas that are aimed at changing altering and improving that behavior. 

  • It works because we can change the future but not the past. 
  • It works because helping people be right is more productive than proving them wrong. 
  • On the most elemental level, it works because people do not take feedforward as personally as feedback.
  • We can focus on hearing without having to worry about responding. 

Marshall adds, “Feedforward forces us to ask—and in doing so, we enlarge our universe of people with useful ideas. Asking, of course, gives the other person a license to answer. I cannot overestimate how valuable this license can be. I’m sure that all of us are surrounded by smart well-meaning friends who “understand” us better than we “understand” ourselves. I suspect they would love to help us; most people like to help others. But they hold back because they think it is rude or intrusive to try to help someone who has not asked for our assistance. Asking solves this."

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