Feedback vs Feedforward — improve your performance

Max Casal
The Startup
Published in
3 min readJan 9, 2020

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Stop using old and unfashioned methods and learn more about a trending thing that can help you instantly.

During the last years probably you have heard at least a thousand times the word feedback. In opportunities, it can be associated with good concepts but in others might be related to critics and bad results. Probably you have been giving feedback and receiving in many things you have done at least a hundred times!

Feedback has been used to improve performance or attitudes in the past 20 or more years.

According to some studies, feedback can have negative results because people are not able to control what they can’t change and as you obviously know, we can’t change the past. This means that feedback some time might generate frustration and stress which concludes with a bad performance. Furthermore, science has detected that when we get negative feedback, our brain generates cortisol that triggers our threat awareness and puts us on the defensive.

As a co-founder of Nowports, a company with more than 85 employees, giving feedback has been a challenge because you need to understand how to handle it.

Recently, thanks to Santiago García da Rosa, we were able to read and learn a new mindset, a new methodology that we are starting to use: feedforward.

It’s good to define what feedback and feedforward mean and make a brief comparison of the pros/cons of each one.

Feedback Definition

Positive, neutral or negative feedback.
  • “Information about reactions to a product, a person’s performance of a task, etc. which is used as a basis for improvement.”
  • “The modification or control of a process or system by its results or effects, e.g., in a biochemical pathway or behavioral response.”

Feedforward definition

  • “The modification or control of a process using its anticipated results or effects.”

Just by definition is easy to see that one is attached to the past (feedback) and the other is focused in the future (feedforward).

Also, we can see that one seems to be reactive (feedback) and the other is proactive(feedforward).

One causes slow reactions and adaptation to changes and the other is focused on improve on the road and is flexible with constant changes.

We could continue finding differences but the conclusion is obvious.

This new methodology is something that we are studying and starting to apply on a daily basis in Nowports. It is something that we are using first internally, but we already realized the impact it can have externally as well with all the stakeholders we work together.

This change of mindset is aligned with two of our values of the company (https://medium.com/@alfonso_13762/how-we-think-about-nowports-our-values-mission-and-vision-84ed706cfebf) which is Proactiveness & Seeking Excellence and we are sure the impact internally and externally it can have is huge.

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