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This week’s focus: For the past year I have been the Assistant Coach for the Boston United Under 10 team – or, as I call it, Head of Laces. This summer we have been working on the boys’ development programme and are in the process of setting out the skills we expect to see from each age group. By explicitly defining these skills we are already starting to identify new ways fundamentally improve the content of our twice-weekly coaching sessions.

Most of the planning I see – both personal and organizational – is ‘today-forward’ in the sense that it sets out to improve the current situation. It is rarer to come across ‘future-back’ planning, where the plan is focused on achieving a specific, clearly-defined future level of performance.

The benefit of future-back planning is that, as with the Boston United development programme, it significantly raises the bar on performance and leads you to take actions that you would not have considered in a more incremental, today-forward approach.

For instance, why not think about one of the big issues that you’re currently working on – the skills and capabilities of sales teams, an organisation’s ability to launch new products and the productivity of a warehouse team are all issues I’ve discussed with clients this week – and, instead of asking how it could be better than today, ask yourself what level of performance you want to see in two years’ time, in 12 months’ time and even in 3 months’ time.

As you go through this exercise, what new ideas and possibilities emerge and what new actions do you realise you need to take that you hadn’t previously considered?

Off the record: Better Things by The Kinks

I know you’ve got a lot of good things happening up ahead

The past is gone, it’s all been said

So here’s to what the future brings

I know tomorrow you’ll find better things

© Stuart Cross 2016. All rights reserved.