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    Entries in backcasting (2)


    Leaders who look back : Hindsight, Retrospectives & Backcasting

    Some well regarded psychological advice for happiness is to avoid dwelling on your thoughts or living in the past; in the words of Dr Richard Carlson, it's best to Stop Thinking, Start Living. 
    But in a business and commercial sense, it can indeed be helpful to look back so we can make sense of what’s been going on. 

    That’s how us humans make sense of things and connect the dots; we look back. Hindsight; it’s 20-20 vision after all! 
    As little events occur through life, we often don't make connections between them as they’re occurring, but when you look back, you can see with hindsight that there is sense to be made. A BIG sense. It's known as 'sensemaking'. 
    You’ll often hear people exclaim ‘I KNEW that was gonna happen’ or ‘you could SEE what was going on from the get go’. 
    We pick up clues and cues and our minds do the figuring out and the connecting of facts and happenings to make a plausible, possible explanation. 

    In a world of constant change, being able to make sense quicker becomes a strong competitive advantage. 
    Back to the Future
    Back to the Future day happening recently it's a sweet reminder of past, present and future. This is when Marty McFly and Dr Emmet Brown in the film 'Back to Future Part II' went back in time and then forward to the future (which occurred in real time on October 21, 2015). We can apply a similar way of thinking in our own lives and businesses... even if we don’t quite have the time machine… yet. 
    Make Sense
    So yes, go back in time; look at what happened, and make sense of it. 
    In a while you’ll be able to make progress, then look back, make sense and learn again. 
    In agile software development, it’s known and adopted frequently as the Retrospective. This is where the team discusses what was successful, what could be improved and how to incorporate that into the future. In planning and strategy circles, an approach called backcasting is used. 
    Make Decisions
    Then you can go forward and because you know what you know, you can make decisions about the best steps forward for you and the team. 

    Make Progress
    While it’s easy, fun and distracting to look at bright shiny objects, cat videos and dogs in swimming pools, unless you’re learning and reflecting on what happened, you won’t make sense and you won't make progress.
    You’ll get a sad case of FOMO. You’ll miss out on picking up trends, joining dots and making sense… and you won’t be prepared for the VUCA  (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) of now and the crazy future that continues to roll out up ahead. 
    Set your time machine mind to make sense regularly, so you can reflect, learn and get ready for the future. 



    Breakthrough and Backcast  

    I remember a Qantas Airlines business advertisement on TV a few years ago. It went like this: a clichéd facilitator was looking at a business team and asking "where are we now, where do we want to go, how will we get there?"

    Fairly staid questions - typical of most strategy conversations and planning sessions. A big yawn - o! 

    The problem with this thinking is it's so very limiting to possibilities. If we're only dealing with where we are at now, of course our future dreams will be framed by that starting point. Our future thinking is going to be shaped by the steps - challenging or otherwise - that got us here.

    Breakthrough thinking - and backcasting - take a different approach. It suggests you go forward, waaaaay forward to where you want to end up...your end goal. Then work backwards and ask : What did you do just before achieving that end goal? What was the step before that, and the step before that, before that, before that... it looks like this:


    What happens is, it takes us further than forecasting. We can be more adventurous. We will take bigger risks and larger steps. We will create a list of 'next steps' and actions that are more aptly focused on how that end goal was achieved ... not how (unachievable?) the end goal looks from here, now.

    The visual template I use with teams to get them breaking through and backcasting is here in this enews for you. Click and save the template above or sketch out your own.  

    To help you achieve your goal - any goal at all, fundraising, publishing a book, garden design, being appointed to a board, setting up a share portfolio, staring a new business... breakthrough and backcast. Don't plod along and forecast! Breakthrough and backcast. 

    And the Qantas Airlines advertisement? The rest of it went like this: just as quickly as the corny facilitator was saying 'where do we want to go' etc, one of the (naturally, bored) participants had logged on to the airline's website and booked his flights. So quick to decide and act on things like that these days, but longer to get your strategy and steps in place using traditional, old school thinking. 

    I think breakthrough thinking and backcasting are a must for your project, team and business. Pick up an old school marker and get to grips with breaking through on that goal you've got you're eyes on!