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Creativity tip - Work backwards

>> 3 October 2010

We are always moving forward.
From A to B.
From Beginning to End.
From Problem to Solution.

And sometimes we get stuck.
We lack ideas, inspiration.
We have been working on the project for such a long time that we can't see the forest for the trees.

We can take a break, concentrate on something else and come back to the problem.

But often, we don't have time for breaks.
We need to move on, get the thing done.

So how do you keep moving?
By working backwards.


  1. Start with the end:
    Imagine the perfect solution to your problem, the perfect launch of your product, the happy ending of your project.
    Go on, be crazy. Splurge. Exaggerate. Imagine the impossible. Fantasize.

    Let's say you're organizing a wedding and it needs to be original. The bride is a vet and the groom an astronaut (I am making this up as I go along...).

    The perfect wedding would take place on the moon. Dogs could line the aisle and howl 'Here comes the bride'. Neil Armstrong is the best man. Apollo 13 swings by with a banner saying 'you may kiss the bride'....

    You see where I'm going...

  2. Now take one step backwards from there.

    Okay, so you can't fly the whole congregation to the moon. What other crazy or moon like location can you think of? Maybe the Arizona desert?
    Dogs could line the aisle, but let's forget the howling.
    Could we get a Neil Armstrong lookalike?
    Could we make a model of Apollo 13?
     
  3. Now, let's take yet another step backwards.

    Maybe Arizona is still too expensive or just not feasible. Maybe we can find a decorator who can turn a restaurant into a moon landscape.
    Who will take care of all those live dogs? Maybe we can rent dog statues?
    Maybe we can make cutouts of Neil Armstrong and other space like characters to decorate the room.
    Maybe the invitation can be a little Apollo 13 model in a box.
     
  4. If you are not happy, continue zooming away from the end result.
If you get stuck again, stop and go make some tea.

You can also start with step 1 all over again imagining another end result to work backwards from.

The possibilities are endless.

2 comments:

Emergefit 6 October 2010 at 00:33  

I am supremely torn between wanting to like this post, and a deep rooted belief that when one has a goal, a step backward is never an option.

I understand the exercise, and like I said, I think I like it, but...

...okay, I like it now. Context, yes...?

Mindful Mimi 6 October 2010 at 13:50  

@Emergefit: I totally see what you mean. However, is taking a step backwards negative to you? If so, why? In the context of organising a wedding as in the example I used, I assume you can see where the exercise is going. But even in projects you are running in life or goals you want to achieve, taking a step backwards needs to be an option. Let's say you are doing all you can to achieve your goal (like creating your business, or loosing weight...): sometimes a step aside to look at the situation is needed to not loose sight of the big picture. Sometimes things change along the way and your path needs redefinining. If you are then not willing to take a step backwards and retrace your path, you risk to continue running into a direction that does not fit you anymore.
See what I mean?

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