Planning Forward by Looking Backward: Retrospective Thinking in Strategic Decision Making*

Planning Forward by Looking Backward: Retrospective Thinking in Strategic Decision Making* Retrospective thinking occurs whenever one remembers something from the past, but one can also think retrospectively about hypothetical future events, by imagining that the event has already transpired and then working backward in the mind from the future toward the present. Designers, artists, planners, and other creative individuals utilize retrospective thinking when they mentally envision the object they wish to create and then thinkabout how it might be constructed. Some theorists and some previous research have suggested that forward and backward thinking are different cognitive processes, but there has been little investigation on the nature of these differences. This article examines the literature and describes a laboratory study designed to investigate retrospective thinking as a technique for increased idea generation. Subjects (n=64) were professional planners and managers with an average business experience of over 20 years. In a planning task, significantly more ideas were generated in the retrospective thinking mode than in the prospective mode, but the ideas were not found to be of greater quality. Evidence emerged that a subset of subjects were better able to make use of the retrospective technique, suggesting that selection along with training may be appropriate for the technique's mosteffective use. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Decision Sciences Wiley

Planning Forward by Looking Backward: Retrospective Thinking in Strategic Decision Making*

Decision Sciences, Volume 25 (2) – Mar 1, 1994

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
Copyright © 1994 Wiley Subscription Services, Inc., A Wiley Company
ISSN
0011-7315
eISSN
1540-5915
DOI
10.1111/j.1540-5915.1994.tb00799.x
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Retrospective thinking occurs whenever one remembers something from the past, but one can also think retrospectively about hypothetical future events, by imagining that the event has already transpired and then working backward in the mind from the future toward the present. Designers, artists, planners, and other creative individuals utilize retrospective thinking when they mentally envision the object they wish to create and then thinkabout how it might be constructed. Some theorists and some previous research have suggested that forward and backward thinking are different cognitive processes, but there has been little investigation on the nature of these differences. This article examines the literature and describes a laboratory study designed to investigate retrospective thinking as a technique for increased idea generation. Subjects (n=64) were professional planners and managers with an average business experience of over 20 years. In a planning task, significantly more ideas were generated in the retrospective thinking mode than in the prospective mode, but the ideas were not found to be of greater quality. Evidence emerged that a subset of subjects were better able to make use of the retrospective technique, suggesting that selection along with training may be appropriate for the technique's mosteffective use.

Journal

Decision SciencesWiley

Published: Mar 1, 1994

Keywords: ; ;

References

  • Knowledge‐based systems for strategic market planning in small firms
    Borch, O. J.; Hartvigsen, G.
  • The systems approach
    Churchman, C. W.
  • Time in perspective: The time sense we learn early affects how we do our jobs and enjoy our pleasures
    Gonzalez, A.; Zimbardo, P. G.
  • A brief history of time: From the Big Bang to black holes
    Hawking, S. W.
  • Decision support systems: An organizational perspective
    Keen, P. G. W.; Scott Morton, M. S.

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