James Smart

Feed forward

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10 - 152 + Low

An engaging variation on a feedback activity that focuses on future changes and positive action, rather than dwelling on what went wrong.



Give participants tangible ideas for creating behaviour change without straying into negativity or ruminating on past actions. 



  1. Start by getting your group into pairs. This activity works equally well with large numbers of people or a single pair in a 1-1 setting. 
  2. Let people know they will be giving feed forward advice, rather than feedback. The difference is that feed forward advice is based on giving suggestions for creating positive change, rather than thinking about past issues.
  3. Start by having one person in each pair ask for a feed forward on something they would like to positively change in the future. The other person will make two suggestions for how they might achieve the change. They are not allowed to give feedback about the past and instead, must only give concrete ideas for what the other person might do in the future.
  4. The person asking for a feedforward can contextualise their feed forward request but should try to keep it brief. When listening to suggestions, they person requesting a feed forward shouldn't react to the suggestions beyond thanking the other person for them.
  5. After making suggestions, swap roles. Note that in some contexts, such as a manager and employee 1-1, you may skip this step and only have the employee soliciting a feed forward.
  6. After one round, mix groups up and select new pairs. Continue for a few rounds so that people get feed forward suggestions from multiple people. 
  7. Though you can end there, it can also be useful to debrief on the activity. What did it feel like to receive a feed forward? What word would you use to describe the session? 


I've used variations of this exercise with various leaders and team mates, though I believe the original method can be attributed to Marshall Goldsmith.

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