I recently listened to two podcasts that had a very similar theme and one that I subscribe to – that is the concept of looking ahead, defining your end outcome and then working backwards to identify how  to make it happen.

The podcasts were an interview with Anders Dahlvig former CEO of IKEA, and the other was an interview with Cameron Herold, founder of Backpocket CEO.

In Ikea’s case they defined how much a bed or table should retail for, and then asked their designers to come up with a way of creating it at that price point. This forces them to look for innovative ways to design, making sure it is flatpacked, and different materials to use.

With Cameron Herold, his podcast outlines how you can double your profits, by focusing on the end vision for the business, and then getting employees, stakeholders etc to buy into it and then coming up with ways to make it happen.  In other words focusing on the what first, before the how.

I use an exercise with clients to help them carry out this activity – so try it along with a colleague. This process enables you to prepare for success by starting with the end outcome in mind.

Step 1: 

Decide what it is that you want to achieve  – write this down in terms of what you are seeing, hearing and experiencing when you are achieving it.  For example, board members are engaged and buying into the plan

Step 2:

Think about the current situation – what is happening now

Step 3:

Make an imaginary line on the floor, decide on a start point for NOW and an end point for the moment when the goal has been successfully achieved (FUTURE NOW)

Step 4:

Stand at the NOW point and summarise the current situation to your colleague. Then walk towards FUTURE NOW.

Step 5:

Stand at FUTURE NOW (when your goal has been successfully achieved) and    describe what’s going on in the present tense to your partner.  E.g. I see the board members smiling and laughing, I feel happy and relieved etc

Step 6:

Look back towards NOW and notice what the significant events were along the timeline in the light of having achieved that outcome.

Step 7:

Now walk slowly back along the line from FUTURE NOW to NOW, pay attention to any thoughts that spring to mind. Notice any difficult points or obstacles that had to be overcome. Your partner will help you to look at these issues from a different perspective and help you to come up with ideas of how you deal with those possible problems. When you are describing your journey you can step off the line and look at your situation from the outside, or from the perspective of another person.

Step 8:

Write down any new ideas, thoughts or actions that you need to take.