
The Work Backward
Strategy
To solve some problems, you may need to undo
the key actions in the problem. Start consciously from the end of the
process and develop it step by step from there.
“You know the famous kid's puzzle in which
there's a picture of three fishermen each with a fishing rod connected to a
long winding fishing line. One fishing line leads to a fish, and the other
two lead nowhere. The question is, which fisherman has caught the fish? Most
kids try answering this puzzle using trial and error. In each trial they
select a different fisherman and carefully follow the line from there,” says
Roni Horowitz, the author of Advanced Systematic Inventive Thinking (ASIT)
technique.
“There is of course a better method, which
would be to start from the fish and follow the string to the fisherman. When
thinking about a process, we're often fixated to follow the same sequence in
our mind, as it would be in the "real" world. This way we miss opportunities
to use insights that stem from following an alternative sequence, such as
working backwards. So the working backwards technique tells us to
consciously start from the end of the process and develop it step by step
from there.”
A
Sample Problem Solving Process

State the problem and identify the measures
that most clearly indicate the problem you are seeking to solve, and the
time over which the problem has changed, and will be solved.

Work back through the logic of what is
causing the problem, using any information that may be relevant, to the
'resources' that are driving it.

Look at the history of the events that have
brought the situation to its current level.

Sketch out how you think a solution for the
future might work, by changing the input flows and working through what
could happen to input and output levels.
When
To Use the Work Backward Strategy
The Work Backward strategy may be appropriate
when:

The final result is clear and the initial
portion of a problem is obscure.

A problem proceeds from being complex
initially to being simple at the end.

A direct approach involves a complicated
equation.

A problem involves a sequence of reversible
actions.
Creative Problem Solving:
Reframing
4 WHYs of True Success
