Friday, January 20, 2012

Think Back to Move Forward

Do you remember, as a child, going into a restaurant that had the placemats with activities on them?  The mazes always seemed so hard to find your way out of.  Unless, you started at the finish and worked backwards toward the start.  For some reason that made it easier to figure out.  Sometimes the plan begins with the end too.
Far too often teams and individuals begin the planning process not having the end in mind.  A plan begins with a clear objective.  Think of it this way...what's the end result, the desired outcome you would like to see?  Then, work backwards.
Ken Kragen, the Creator of "We Are The World", and "Hands Across America", is also my business coach.  He wrote a phenomenal book titled Life is a Contact Sport.  In his book he talks about the power of thinking backwards from your goal to create the road map to follow.  This process helps you pinpoint every step, necessary action and person you need to connect with.  Ken also says it will help you in figuring out who the gatekeepers are; the people you need to get a "yes" from.  He also stresses the importance of really understanding the goal before you begin generating solutions.
I have utilized this process in many of the strategic planning and team building processes I have facilitated for my corporate clients.  The process of working backwards has been especially useful in identifying the time required for specific tasks and then setting deadlines and time lines from there.
Based on Ken's teaching, ask yourself or your team these questions in your next planning process:

  • What is the desired outcome (or, what is the end result we envision?  What problem are we solving?)
  • Before we get there, what do we need to happen?
  • What permissions are required?
  • Who do we need to connect with to get the permission?
  • What gatekeepers do we need to speak with in order to get the permission?
  • Continue to repeat process until the plan is formed.
Begin with the end to get to the finish faster!

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