Steven Covey’s second habit states: “Begin with the end in mind.“
I recently read about a similar concept from Annie Duke (Author and Poker champion), who also talks about imagining a positive future and working backward to figure out how you achieved it.
Both of them are describing Backcasting – an advanced thinking method that starts with defining a desirable future and then working backward to make it possible.
Here’s an excerpt from Annie’s book “Thinking in Bets”
In a Harvard Business Review article, decision scientist Gary Klein found that prospective hindsight — imagining that an event has already occurred — increases the ability to correctly identify reasons for future outcomes by 30% .”
How can we apply Backcasting to solve problems?
Let’s say your goal is to reduce customer churn in six months. You can plan to achieve it by imagining it’s six months from now and you’ve hit your goal. Then you’re going to trace your steps by asking:
“What specific steps did I take to hit the goal?”
This is a unique brainstorming exercise for your teams. It teaches them to think creatively and look at a typical problem from an aspirational lens versus a traditional present-> future lens.
Imagining a successful future and backcasting from there is a useful time-travel exercise for identifying necessary steps for reaching our goals.