Working Backwards for Maximum Effectiveness

Author : Alan Weiss
Published: August 13, 2012

People organize and set priority the wrong way. They tend to look at their desk and calendar and attempt to sort the myriad issues, notes, projects, tasks, and dust bunnies into some cohesive framework, which is like pushing cappellini with a straw. Professional organizers often seem to think that organizing your head is like organizing a desk drawer or a garage—pencils here, paper clips there, chain saw under the bench.

Here’s a conceptual breakthrough that I’m introducing with my coaching clients in my new Super Coaching (KAATN: Kick Ass And Take Names) Program.

Work backwards.

Determine those outcomes and results (outputs, not inputs) that are most important to you, and focus on the major and fastest issues to achieve them. Anything else is superfluous. Stop worrying about software upgrades, subscriptions, social media platform dives, random email, and whether your lamp should be six inches to the left.

For example, if you want to exploit referral business among existing clients, ask yourself what outcomes are most desirable. Let’s say it’s four referrals per week to legitimate buyers who agree to take your call and/or see you. That’s a great outcome.

Working backwards: Select the highest potential existing buyers who can provide these; schedule phone calls to each at the rate of two a day in your calendar; prepare exactly what you will say to make your request.

That’s it. Now move.

On the input and tedious side, you might have: Improved your data base; searched the data base; created priorities; sent emails; thought about ideal new clients; tested various approaches; asked others for insights and help; created deadlines; used project management tools (HUGE wastes of time); tracked success and follow-up; thought about reciprocity; and so forth.

Too many of us procrastinate and waste time on the input side, thinking that if we organize better we’re accomplishing something. Nothing is accomplished without results, and that usually requires action, not lists, and behavior, not thought. When you work backwards from the results you will streamline your path, and anything not in the path is merely miscellaneous vegetation along the roadside: weeds.

Don’t get lost in the weeds.

© Alan Weiss 2012. All rights reserved.

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