Do you remember travelling with the family as a child? Did you ever eat at one of those restaurants that had the placemats with activities on them? The mazes always seemed so hard to find your way out of. Unless, you started at the finish and worked backwards toward the start. For some reason that made it easier to figure out. Often that same strategy works with planning too.
Far too often teams and individuals begin the planning process without considering how things will be at the end. A plan begins with a clear objective. Think of it this way...what's the end result, the desired outcome you would like to see? Then, determine what will need to be done in order to achieve that end result. In other words, go from finish to start!
Ken Kragen, the Creator of "We Are The World", and "Hands Across America", is also my business coach. He wrote a phenomenal book titled Life is a Contact Sport. In his book he talks about the power of thinking backwards from your goal to create the road map to follow. This process helps you pinpoint every step, necessary action and person you need to connect with. Ken also says it will help you in figuring out who the gatekeepers are; the people you need to get a "yes" from. He also stresses the importance of really understanding the goal before you begin generating solutions.
I have utilized this process in many of the strategic planning and team building processes I have facilitated for my corporate clients. The process of working backwards has been especially useful in identifying the time required for specific tasks and then setting deadlines and time lines from there. It is also useful for identifying possible barriers to achieving the desired outcome. This will help you to develop more resilient plans and better prepare you and your team to deal with difficulties along the way.
Based on Ken's teaching, ask yourself or your team these questions in your next planning process:

- What is the desired outcome (or, what is the end result we envision? What problem are we solving?)
- Before we get there, what do we need to happen?
- What permissions are required?
- Who do we need to connect with to get the permission?
- What gatekeepers do we need to speak with in order to get the permission?
- Continue to repeat process until the plan is formed.

Start at the finish line and take the journey backwards!

Author's Bio: 

Charmaine Hammond, MA, BA, is an international transformational speaker, helping people live inspired, resilient lives and is a leading trainer in corporate North America helping transform workplaces. Charmaine is also an award winning and bestselling author of On Toby's Terms (Bettie Youngs Books, Sept. 2010), Toby the Pet Therapy Dog-and his hospital friends (Bettie Youngs Books, Aug 2011), and Bounce Forward (Hammond International Publishing, April 2011)