Backward Forward Planning

More than any other situation Change is about cooperation and collaboration. No matter if your company is in serious trouble or just wants to find a new way to line itself up – it always needs people to initiate, moderate, steer, coordinate and live that Change.

So what? The problem is that often people simply don´t know how to cooperate. Of course people cooperate on a daily base, but this is mostly routine, it´s like a form of vegetative state. Change causes different needs and different needs urges people to modify their behavior.

Over years I have collected several “Creativity Techniques” to support Cooperation between people – not only in times of Change. It is always better to be prepared than surprised…

What are Creativity Techniques?
Creativity techniques are heuristic methods to facilitate creativity in a person or a group of people. They are most often used in creative problem solving.

Generally, most creativity techniques use associations between the goal (or the problem), the current state (which may be an imperfect solution to the problem), and some stimulus (possibly selected randomly). There is an analogy between many creativity techniques and methods of evolutionary computation.

In problem-solving contexts, the random word creativity technique is perhaps the simplest such method. A person confronted with a problem is presented with a randomly generated word, in the hopes of a solution arising from any associations between the word and the problem. A random image, sound, or article can be used instead of a random word as a kind of creativity goad or provocation.

Backwards forwards planning is a process to help you define the problem, and make sure you are not in tunnel vision where you can’t see the real problem because of the close problem you think is biting you. The process has three stages:

  • Write down the short version of the problem, preferably starting with “How to…”
  • If you were to solve the problem in statement 1, what higher level problem would it also solve? Write this down. Continue asking what higher level problem it solves and writing them down. Try to obtain at least 3 statements.
  • Going back to statement 1, ask what other benefits would flow from it, if it were a solution. Make sure these are different from those in stage 2.

You can then look at the various definitions and decide which is the most appropriate statement of the problem.

As an example, you are at home, your car is at the garage for repairs and you feel you really need to go and do the food shopping. Your first statement might be;

  • “How to get into the shops.”

If you were to work down the list of additional problems this would solve you might write down

  • “I could get all the food and drink for the week”

Followed by

  • “I could relax and not worry any more about where the food was”

Which may lead you to

  • “I could finish that painting I want to hang in the living room”

Working the other way, what benefits would you also have if you could get to the shops may lead to

  • “I could have a look at some clothes whilst I was there.”
  • “I could enjoy some retail therapy” and
  • “I could call in on my friend for a chat since they live near the shop.”

You now have 7 potential problem statements to choose from, it may be that your original statement is the problem to be solved, or it may be that “How to find time to complete the picture I’m painting” is more important to you.

See also Chunking!

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