Counting Backwards

Frank Blechman

Private Consultant. Formerly at the Institute of Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

Q: What sort of qualities do you think that someone doing this work should have?


A:Clearly the ability to count backwards is in the top 5. I don't know if it's in the top 3.

Q: What does that mean?

A: Particularly in complicated processes people who try to lay out a schedule and then when they are done with that they'll see what happens next and try to work forward. They almost always run out of resources. Whether it is their own patience or other people's patience or money or time. If you can say to folks let's do some vision driven work here. Let's figure out where we want to be and when we need to be there. Then work backwards. You can set a schedule and hold it a bit better than trying to work forwards. In the same way it is very important when you are gathering people in a public process to get them to figure out very early on who sent them. Who were you responsible to? Who do you need to give feedback to about how this is going? It's equally important to get people to do the visioning future looking piece and say who in the end needs to be supportive? Who needs to know about it? Whether they are involved now and whether they see you and whether they sent you or not? You have to build feed-forward in as much as you give feedback. That's what I mean by counting backwards.