Backwards Planning

January 6, 2009

This IM chat I just had was super simple and clear and we both thought it might be helpful to others!

PA-Based Organizer:
Hey - we need to do benchmarks - I was never good with that part. I'm familiar with backwards planning, but...still need a little guidance to refresh me...any suggestions?

Adrienne:
I can tell you - its fairly simple the way we do it at Ruckus

1) Brainstorm every single area of work that needs to get done (outreach, logistics, etc.)

2) In each area plan every single task that needs to get accomplished down to the smallest task

3) Then - we use a big dry erase board for this - put up your event date like it's the end of time (along with the goals for your event - how many people you want there, what materials you want to have, what kind of media you need, etc), and create a calendar between the present day and your event date.

4) Now, lay in the tasks, moving backwards from the event date. questions help to knock this out. so for your event the outreach planning could be like: a) when do we need everyone confirmed? b) ok, then when do we need everyone to apply? c) ok, then when and where do we need to post the application? d) ok, then when do we need to write the application form? and so on.

PA-Based Organizer:
Yeah, it's coming back to me now!

Adrienne:
5) Then, move all those deadlines up 2 weeks - I call it the cushion!

PA-Based Organizer:
Why am I remembering "benchmarks" being something else, like specific numbers or something? (Oh - the cushion thing is sooo necessary too...thanks for that tip.)

Adrienne:
If its a basebuilding campaign, the benchmarks can be numbers, or for an event the outreach part can be numbers. but there are other benchmarks as well that are just task accomplishments - a benchmark is simply a specific piece of work that needs to be accomplished.

PA-Based Organizer:
Thank you soooo much!!

Adrienne:
Let me know how that works for you!


Adrienne Maree Brown is the executive director of The Ruckus Society and a co-founder of the League of Young Voters. Adrienne is obsessed with learning and developing models for action, community strength and movement building.


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