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The future, backwards

December 25, 2011

Il faut savoir ce qu’on veut (you have to know what you want). I find it hard to make time for this… finding out what I want. I sort of know, but I’m not so conscious about it. At the same time, I think it will be of great value to have a better awareness of what I want. To make it a bit easier (again) for myself, I will focus on a work-setting. How can we find out what we want? What is our shared purpose? When I put it like that, I’m thinking that it’s even harder to make time for this…. and it is of even greater value to be more aware of this.

As John Seddon argues in his lecture (post: target obsession disorder) we can only plan for the “known future”, and not for the “unknown future”, but even for the known future, I don’t think we (me and my colleagues) are very aware of what we want to achieve there….

A colleague suggested the following method (how) to find out more about our possible futures, and mybe distill a common purpose. I’m sure there are many similar methods, but the one suggested is called the “future, backwards, method”, by Cognitive Edge. They describe the method as follows:

The Future, Backwards method was developed as an alternative to scenario planning and is designed to increase the number of perspectives that a group can take both on an understanding of their past, and of the range of possible futures. It can be used to discover what entrained patterns of past perception in an organisation are determining its future. It can be used to compare and contrast different aspirations as to the present and the future. It can be used to generate multiple turning points or decision points.

Future, Backwards can be used as a devise to generate or prompt for anecdotes, to lead into mapping and many other purposes. If the instructions are followed it is easy for participants to understand and generates considerable energy within the group. It can be delivered at varying depths of detail and duration, taking from an hour to half a day to complete (obviously with different levels of processing and detail).

Source: The future, backwards method on Cognitive Edge

I find it an interesting method, and am considering to unleash it on my colleagues one day. To be continued…

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