Fresh eyes

Back to the future – why planning backwards is critical

Back to the future why planning backwards is critical

Written by Michael Gregory,
Director at Freshfield

For those of you who know me, you’ll understand that I am a very late convert to rugby, which for many is a violent sport that involves 30 men carrying a ball from one end of the pitch to the other while trying to avoid being trampled on.

It is much more than that, it’s a chess game. A game of great intelligence – identifying the opposition’s game plan and weaknesses and then exploiting them. My introduction to rugby has opened my eyes to how much we can learn from sport and take elements of how teams prepare for success into business.

Take Stuart Lancaster as a prime example. He’s employed a process called planning backwards which works back from a set objective and how his team will work toward that goal. His goal is to build a team that is capable of winning the Rugby World Cup in 2015.

It is understood that he has a presentation that starts with the question with, ‘What does the World Cup winning team look like?’ He then works back from that with objectives that need to be achieved and the tactics or measures that need to be put in place to help that happen.

This is a model he has adopted from British Rowing and, unsurprisingly, a system that has been employed by British Cycling. To endorse this approach, Lancaster has recently appointed Matt Parker as head of athletic performance, who was previously with…yes you guessed it, British Cycling.

So take this into the sphere of marketing, it is an approach that businesses could do well to adopt. What do we want to achieve from our marketing activity in the short, medium and long term and then work backwards.

For example, an objective would be that a company wants to promote itself to a certain sector. Its objective could be that it wants to be regarded as the leading business that supplies testing services to the oil & gas industry. From that a plan will be devised to achieve that objective along with the resources and support it needs to get there.

By applying backwards planning, it will help take away much of the mystery and ensure your marketing is a success and in line with your overall business objectives.

Here’s to (fingers crossed) England lifting the Webb Ellis Cup in 2015.

To find out how we can help you to develop an effective marketing strategy to support your business objectives, contact us today.

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