Starting Backwards

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The last week or so I’ve been pulling together a strategy presentation.

Backwards.

It all started when I realised that I need a place to dump some thoughts and concepts, things I knew were related but didn’t know how or why. Most of these were simple diagrams, or short sentences. I’m not sure why I choose powerpoint, I guess I knew that at some point I’d need to present these ideas as a cohesive whole.

So without planning it I soon had a batch of somewhat related slides, but which had no audience and certainly no idea of structure or story.

The slides include diagrams of how we are planning on storing our content once we have chunked it all into topics, quotes around the changing role information is playing in the workplace and as part of the product set, details of our current build system and how it needs to improve, lists of metadata, analyst suggestions with implementation ideas of how we can put them into action, thoughts on the change of writing style required to move to topic-based authoring, and so on and so forth.

It’s a big grab bag of everything and anything that we’ve thought about, or will need to consider as we change both how we work, and what we do for the company. I’m pretty confident it will be something we can re-use over and over again, shuffling the slides in and out depending on the audience, and I’m certain it will prove worthwhile both internally and externally.

Mind you I’ve just realised that there is one word that doesn’t feature as strongly as it should. Conversation. That will come as soon as I start to add in some thoughts around the developer community website I’m currently building (which in turn has reminded me to beef up the training material angle.. ack!).

What’s really encouraging is that, despite the unconventional approach it’s all starting to make some sense as a cohesive whole, and I think the range of information it covers will help us focus in on various things we’ve not fully considered (or considered at all) and once we’ve done that it will only take a bit of slimming down to be ideal for communicating our plans to the rest of the company.

Typically when thinking of planning I start to think in more traditional terms, breaking down the work needed into actionable chunks. However this time I let my mind race and wander across all the myriad of topics that it needed to consider, captured as much information as I could and it’s only now that I’m starting to step back and survey what I’ve created.

As a process it’s a bit ramshackle but sometimes it’s good to step off the well-worn path and try something new. So next time you are considering future plans and strategies, why not start them backwards?