The way we talk about what we’re doing right or wrong is really important. Usually, we get feedback, which is when someone tells us what we did well or what mistakes we made. While this can help, it often focuses too much on the past. Instead, let’s talk about “feedforward,” a method that looks at how we can do better in the future. Switching from feedback to feedforward can help us improve more effectively and feel more motivated.

What is Feedforward?

Feedforward is an idea from a coach named Marshall Goldsmith. Instead of looking back at what happened, feedforward looks ahead at what can happen. It’s about giving advice and suggestions on how to get better in the future. This makes the conversation about what we can do next, not just what we did before.

Why Feedback Can Be Limiting

  • Focuses on the Past: Feedback usually looks at what has already happened. While it’s good to learn from mistakes, always talking about what went wrong can make us feel stuck.
  • Can Feel Negative: Feedback often sounds like criticism, which can be discouraging. It might make us feel bad about ourselves and less interested in trying again.
  • Not Always Clear: Sometimes feedback isn’t specific, so it’s hard to know exactly what to do to improve.
  • Fixed Mindset: Focusing too much on past mistakes can make us think we can’t change or get better.

Why Feedforward is Better

  • Looks to the Future: Feedforward is all about what we can achieve next. It’s positive and hopeful, which makes us feel more excited about improving.
  • Encouraging: By focusing on future possibilities, feedforward is more positive. It helps us feel supported and motivated.
  • Gives Clear Advice: Feedforward offers specific tips we can use right away. This makes it easier to know what steps to take to get better.
  • Growth Mindset: Thinking about how we can improve helps us believe that we can always get better. This mindset helps us stay motivated to learn and grow.

How to Use Feedforward

  1. Change the Talk: Encourage teachers, coaches, and bosses to talk about what we can do next instead of just what happened before. Instead of asking, “What went wrong?” ask, “What can we do better next time?”
  2. Set Goals: Help people set clear, achievable goals. Give advice on how to reach these goals and support them along the way.
  3. Self-Reflection: Encourage everyone to think about their own performance and what they want to achieve. Help them think about what they can do better.
  4. Regular Feedforward: Make feedforward a regular part of how you talk about progress. Don’t wait for yearly reviews—give advice and support all the time.
  5. Celebrate Progress: Celebrate when people make progress, no matter how small. This shows that improving is important and keeps everyone motivated.

Moving from feedback to feedforward is a great way to help people grow and improve. By looking ahead and giving clear advice, feedforward helps us feel more positive and motivated. This approach not only helps us get better at what we do but also creates a more supportive and encouraging environment. Try using feedforward, and see how it can make a big difference in your growth and success.