Works backwards from a desirable future to identify the actions needed to help shape your desired future/s.
On this page:
Why you should use it
- Helps identify the enablers and barriers to achieving your desired future/s.
- Informs the development of an action plan to shape your desired future/s.
What it involves
- Involves a workshop discussion where participants work backwards from the desired future/s, which have previously been developed by applying futures thinking tools. Backcasting identifies the changes that are needed to make the desired future/s happen.
- After an initial brainstorming session, the changes identified to make the desired future/s happen are tested, further refined and analysed.
- A pathway is chosen to get from the current to the desired future/s, and an action plan developed which sets out the key steps, events and decisions over a timeline.
Source: Australian Government's Department of Agriculture and Water Resources' Strategic foresight for international trade in animals and animal products
What you will get out of it
- A shared view of the actions required to help shape your desired future/s.
Ideal circumstances for use
- You first need to identify the range of potential futures through a separate exercise to prevent your desired future/s becoming a simple projection of ‘today’ into ‘tomorrow’.
- Backcasting works best for issues where it’s unclear how to achieve your desired future/s or the feasibility of your desired future/s.
- People can be subject to an optimism bias even when working backwards.
- Backcasting doesn’t support divergent or creative thinking.
References, Guides and Key Readings
The Futures Toolkit (pages 68-72) from the UK Government Office for Science.
Strategic foresight for international trade in animals and animal products (pages 28-29) from the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.
Backcasting from the European Foresight Platform.