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When faced with a large project, most people plan it out in steps. That planning will usually and probably be done by starting at the beginning and figuring out what comes next. I would like to explain another way, based on my experience in the printing industry.

I began working in printing way back in the 1970s. In those days just about everything that went into producing a printed product was done differently. There were more steps and more hands for the job to pass through. I learned, perhaps spurred by my own curiosity, that it was a good idea to talk to everyone involved in every step. It soon occurred to me that this process worked best if I began at the end.

Usually, this is common. A designer will provide a mock-up; a roughly produced sample of what the final printed product will look like. For other projects, it is suggested by experts, to get a very clear idea of what you are making or trying to do. The clearer more comprehensive your vision, the more likely it is that you will succeed.

The important point I want to make here is, don’t step forward, step backward. Once you know what you are aiming for, your target, work out what steps are needed to reach your target. Work out all the steps in whatever order you need to and arrange them in the best order you think will work. Then, you start with the end first and work backwards to get the details figured out. Ask, for this step to work best and to help others involved, how does the previous work or step need to be done. Talk to those involved and find out what they need to be able to do their job well. Even if it is you, think about how best to do the previous step to make this step easier and better.

Planning

Goal

Step 3

Step 2

Step 1

Executing

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Goal

In my work in the printing industry, I would often talk to the press people about a job to make sure I understood what they needed. I would ask everyone involved. I often learned more than I initially needed; I learned things that would help me with other jobs. My self motto was to not assume, ask. Contacting other people involved had other benefits. First, they knew the job was coming down the line and, second, they felt like they were in the loop and that made them more cooperative.

Make your next goal even more successful than usual and start at the end first and finish well.

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