Move from FeedBack to FeedForward for a better outcome

We all rely on feedback for improvement. Whether it is a new product you launched, the new initiative you started, learning new skills from a coach, or a new idea you just came up with. The role of feedback in learning and improvement cannot be overemphasized.

This feedback has become an important activity in individual development and performance appraisal. 360 feedback is now a norm in many organizations. You ask for feedback on an individual’s contribution to all members who worked with the person during a specific period.

What is feedback?

Feedback is the process of looking back and using data, individual judgment, or perceptions to determine what worked and what didn’t. It is a means of judging performance from past actions.

Feedback is a means of judging performance

What is the issue with feedback for individual development?

Feedback is relevant if you are using it to learn about user reception of your new product, feature, service, etc., where you can measure past performance to determine the future course of action.

When it comes to individual development, we apply the same rules to a product or a service. We ask colleagues, managers to measure individual past performance from their eyes and provide judgment in the name of helping individual’ growth.

However, we miss adding one key difference that people are not products or services. Feedback for individuals is impacted by the individual’s past actions and his complex relations with evaluators. This complex relationship between individuals is not the same as User and Product.

What factor impacts feedback?

  1. Organization Culture

The culture of the organization and team could have a significant impact on how feedback is provided. If your organization has a One team culture, is it more of a “Bell Curve” follower? Whether there is a recognization of failure, learnings, or punishment for failure. Depending on the culture of the organization, people providing feedback will have those cultural glasses.

2. Information and Data

Feedback on information could be severely influenced by information and data from the person providing such feedback. He will only be able to make judgments based on available information, data with him.

3. Perceptions

Perceptions of an individual could have a significant impact on feedback. The same act could be judged as good or bad depending on perception.

4. Politics and Personal Issues

Believe it or not, politics is not played only by political leaders. Many organizations have various levels of politics depending on the complex relationships of individuals and culture. Politics have a significant impact on how feedback could be provided or even perceived by your manager.

5. Denial

Even if there is genuine feedback. Individual’s reception of that feedback plays a crucial role in development, improvement. If feedback is not delivered correctly or is different from employees’ judgment about the past, then there are high chances that the person will not accept feedback and, in turn, take any improvement actions.

6. Focus is on measuring performance instead of Individual Development

Many managers are most interested in measuring performance due to organization needs during the annual review cycle rather than to help individuals develop as professionals. When the focus is not on improvement, feedback becomes more of a measurement tool without any real benefit.

What is FeedForward?

Feedforward is a reverse exercise of feedback. This focus is on looking ahead about an individual’s goal, aspirations, and career objective. Colleagues Feedforward him with suggestions, ideas, action items to achieve his goal without focusing on the past.

The purpose of Feedforward is to help an individual with suggestions for growth. This creates a positive work environment for shared success where everyone is helping with each other’s goals, growth and removes individual judgments or biases on past actions.

How to FeedForward?

You are responsible for your own development, growth, goals as a professional. It would be best if you reached out to relevant people for FeedForward with the below steps:

  1. State your Goal
  2. Another person needs to know what forward means to you. However, if you want to become a chef, he provides feedforward about a footballer, which may not be helpful.
  3. State your goal clearly in simple words, which could be understood easily. Clarifies if there are any questions
  4. Ask for Suggestions, Advice
  5. Request ideas, suggestions, Advice you could get to achieve your goal
  6. Listen carefully
  7. Listen to all ideas and write suggestions down
  8. Filter
  9. Once you have collected enough suggestions, please review them. Think of suggestions that make sense while keeping your goal in mind. If not, you are not obliged to follow all feedforward.
  10. Implement
  11. Determine actions and implement. Use some goal-setting framework such as OKRs for measuring progress.

In the End….

Feedback and Feedforward are tools for improvement. For Individual Growth, where you have defined goals, feedforward could help you achieve significant progress and rapid success.

if you ask for feedback, you create a critique; if you ask for suggestions, you create a partner.




Product Developer | Agilist | Coach | Learner | I write about Product development, leadership and innovation

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Prakash Inani

Prakash Inani

Product Developer | Agilist | Coach | Learner | I write about Product development, leadership and innovation

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