What’s Macro-Issue Feedforward?

October 7th, 2013 by Kelly Kienzle

zoom lens

The next time you have the urge to give someone feedback on what they did, here’s an alternative: Re-focus to the macro issue and think forward.

Macro-Issue Feedforward is my spin on Marshall Goldsmith’s excellent Feedforward tool.  I added the “Macro-Issue” part.  Here’s how my (and Marshall’s) approach is different from traditional feedback….

Feedback is giving commentary on some issue that has already happened.  It’s specific comments on a specific issue that will never exactly repeat itself again in the future.  For example, your boss might say, “Your announcement yesterday about the new service line was not inspiring.”

While there is some value in this feedback, it leaves out the possibility for change in the future.  And it does not get to the underlying issue.

What if you were to reply to your boss, “Thanks for the feedback.  I really want to be an inspiring leader.  What are two things you would recommend I do to help me with that goal?”  This response has several benefits:

  •  Allows you both to zoom out to the macro issue from which these smaller issues are likely growing
  • Provides you with some practical steps you could take going forward (and you already know that the boss approves of these steps)
  • Shows that you are committed to your overall development, not just fixing isolated issues when (or after) they happen

And here’s my disclaimer notice: Do this in moderation.  Any tools that you read about in this blog or anywhere else should be considered as one of several methods to use.  No single tool should be used exclusively.

So, keep giving single-issue feedback occasionally and also notice where you can sprinkle in some Macro-Issue Feedforward as well.

Zoom out and look to the future.  There are always more possibilities there.


“Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past.”

– Lily Tomlin

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