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be made that will affect the final best-case scenario.
3. At each of these key points, plug any unintended
consequences that could derail progress toward the end-game
4. Come up with strategies (this is the hardest part) to
mitigate or eliminate the unintended consequences or
barriers to success.
At each step back to today, you will have built a roadmap
of decision points and subpoints. There will have been clear
acknowledgements of any pitfalls, giving the best possible
assurance that your desired outcome becomes reality. The
technique also encourages groups to consider unintended
consequences and their broader impacts on decisions. It also
gets folks thinking outside the box to identify the wrenches
that can often be thrown into projects.
Umble offers “that by doing this at each decision point along
the way moving forward, you are much less likely to find
yourself in a position of regret, something that can be very
difficult to explain to a rate payer or council member.”
If you need help visualizing this approach, think about what
the Avengers did in the Avengers: Endgame movie. I assume
most have seen this film as it has grossed more than $2.7
billion worldwide. The Avengers did a sort of corollary to
the backcasting method in order to defeat the actions of
the evil Thanos. Instead of trying to ensure a good outcome,
they made sure the worst outcome (half of all life in the
universe destroyed) didn’t happen. The superheroes did this
by going back in time to key points that were critical to the
outcome and mitigating the situation (by acquiring the Infin-ity
Stones). Iron Man, Hulk, and Captain Marvel saved the
universe with their efforts. See what you can do at your plant
or organization by using the backcasting technique during
your planning efforts.
Thanks to Dr. Art Umble for his help and assistance with this article.
Blair Corning is the Deputy Director of Strategic
Programs at the Littleton/Englewood Wastewater
Treatment Plant. He is involved in managing
programs and professionals that focus on
safeguarding the environment and meeting the
wastewater treatment needs of the community. Corning has a
Master of Science in Water Science from the University of Idaho
and is a graduate of the AWWA Utility Management Institute.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.