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Back Casting predicting the future from the past

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What is Back Casting?

Back casting is a unique planning process that asks you to first consider what the ultimate future would be, before working backwards to define how this can be created. This process can be used in a range of different aspects of life, including in a design timeline.

Why is Back Casting Useful?

Many people have a goal in mind when it comes to planning any kind of project, so it can be an easy task to picture a desirable future in the beginning. What exactly does the product look like? What would be the ultimate result when the product is finished? By back casting you are able to work from that picture perfect result, back through the different elements you need to achieve in order to get there. This can ensure you do not miss things from the design process, while also creating an achievable end goal.

How to Use Back Casting

You imagine that the future has arrived and the problem has been solved or the outcome has been achieved. Then you look back at the significant steps you took to arrive there.

There are three main ways of doing this:

  • In your imagination
  • On a large sheet of paper
  • By walking an imaginary Timeline on the floor, representing your past, present and future. (Timeline work forms part of Neuro Linguistic Programming.)

Many people in the design process will use the second method, planning the timeline on a large sheet of paper. By plotting out your plan step by step, working backwards, you will be able to get a better idea of how your end goal can be achieved. This can then be referred back to throughout the different steps, ensuring that the desirable future is within reach.

More information on back casting can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backcasting

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