Last Updated on 7 April 2011

The challenge of a maze is to connect the START with the END without running into dead ends… having to retrace your path. The risk is low, making a maze an amusement.

The challenge of managing projects is similar. You must move from START to END without running into dead ends. However, the stakes are higher… making project management less amusing.

Never fear… this scoop of Inbox Sand will strengthen your maze navigation AND project management skills.

Start at the END and work your way toward the START.

Go ahead… Try it. Draw the line backwards from the END point toward the START. You’ll find you will rarely get stuck.

And… now you have a clearly marked path from the START to the END.

Maze Diagram

This backwards maze strategy works just as well for tasks and projects (and eliminates frustration in the same manner). While considered a cheat in completing a maze, at work it is a clever and effective strategy.

Big projects can be daunting to start. What needs to be done? What are the priorities? What resources will we need?

This approach has both logistic and emotional benefits…

Logistically Sound

By creating an image of the future you won’t be hampered why what you have, instead you’ll create what you need.

End Start

Alan Weiss writes about this in his book “The Unofficial Guide to Power Managing

“…If you begin with today and try to turn it into tomorrow, you will be constrained by maximum growth and change permitted by today’s organization and resources. But if you begin with the picture of the future, you can then “work backwards” to determine what has to be changed today in order to reach tomorrow.”

Emotionally Charging

By playing-out the successful result of a project, you create positive emotions of success. These emotions fuel your energy and serve as mental rehearsal for the positive outcome.

The concept “self-fulfilling prophecy” is typically associated with someone who self-destructs his or her own efforts through negativity. The prophecy works for good as well as evil. By focusing on the success you have already envisioned, you will propel success though asset-based thinking.

Recommended Techniques

Write Tomorrow’s Headline – a motivational tool is to write the press release or news article about the success. Write it as if it were in your company newsletter, an organizational announcement of your success, or the lead story in the New York Times.

In his book “Out of the Box” Rob Eastaway suggests starting at “the final chapter, the card you attach to the gift, or the ‘thank you’ speech when you’ve received your award for excellence.”

Hindsight is 20/20 – An aphorism you can put to work for you. After you imagine your success, work your way backward – mapping out step-by-step what got you there. Write down these milestones, assumptions, and tasks.

Whelp, I hope you find this amazingly
Paul's First Name
Paul Williams
Idea Sandbox

Idea Sandbox • Seattle | Amsterdam