Step Six – Managing Expectations
It is a good idea to take your future ideas and plans and bring them back to your current operations and what needs to be done now to support the future plan. This is ‘backcasting’.
It starts with the question: what are the real needs of the customer? When you have a definite answer to this question, you can start to identify what operations changes are needed now.
The following ABCD’s are for you to consider at this point in your product development:
A real need is (almost) never something that someone wants to own: it is not the need of a kitchen but the need of healthy food, it is not having to own a own car but the ability of movement. So the question is: what real need of the customer can you fulfill?
Since the answer is almost never a ‘thing’ we urge you to think about the product-service-combination that you can offer or create. Rethink and redesign your products and services.
Rethinking and redesigning products and services gives great perspectives on new markets and new opportunities for existing customers. No doubt about it, new opportunities provide a lot of enthusiasm. The question is not whether you should change your operations, the question is just when and how fast the change can be realized. This is not a technical question, since many techniques can be changed relatively quickly. It is a question of relations, finance and the power of connections.
Can you identify the people and partners that will be the foundation on which you can build the change in your business? Are these game-changers well informed and facilitated to support the change? Do these people have room to move: to innovate, to communicate, to build new relations, to redesign their operations. This is one of the most difficult parts of change: trust others, trust in the quality of people.
In the end it is your decision, as as an entrepreneur to step into the Circular Economy. There are viable economical arguments to do so. Also there are viable societal arguments to do so: the need of changing from a waste-oriented system to a circular system is evident. Whatever argument you use, we know choosing for the Circular Economy is a choice for the future of business. The redesign and rethinking enhances the resilience of business for future insecurities. Through the design process the ability to adapt to changes will flourish and grow into new opportunities. Resource management brings independence.
Backcasting is daring to choose strategies for the future after a thorough analysis of the problem, solutions, current environment and future needs of customers.
Backcasting is a planning method that starts with defining a desirable future and then works backwards to identify policies and programs that will connect that specified future to the present. The fundamentals of the method were outlined by John B. Robinson from the University of Waterloo in 1990. The fundamental question of backcasting asks: “If we want to attain a certain goal, what actions must be taken to get there?”¹
While forecasting involves predicting the future based on current trend analysis, backcasting approaches the challenge of discussing the future from the opposite direction; it is “a method in which the future desired conditions are envisioned and steps are then defined to attain those conditions, rather than taking steps that are merely a continuation of present methods extrapolated into the future”.
Step 1. Identification of the desired end-point
Step 2. Identification of obstacles, opportunities and milestones
2a. Identification of the obstacles (e.g. lack of financial resources) and opportunities.
2b. At the same time, milestones are defined.
Step 3. Identification of (Policy) actions
Step 4. Identification of Strategies (e.g: mix of actions)²
Consider, for example, the city of London, which predicted in 1894 that by 1950 every street in the city would be buried nine feet deep in horse manure. Related health, safety and waste-management issues of streets getting covered in manure (and flies!) were slowly driving the city into planning gridlock. In this example, what kind of obstacles, opportunities, milestones, technology, policies and strategies would have to be considered for improvements?³
² “Participatory backcasting: A tool for stakeholders in long term local development planning” by Dr. Maurizio Prosperi, Dr. Antonio Lopolito and Prof. Roberta Sisto
³ “Backcasting: A Roadmap to Transformational Change” by Renilde Becque, Sustainablebrands.com, 19 January 2015
Backcasting Image: The Natural Step
Video: Sustainability Illustrated