Reply to Dave Buffenbarger.
Based on the way you posed the alternatives -- forward planner versus
backward planner -- the backward option wins because (as already
mentioned) it is more efficient. It does not having to consider unused
Let me pose the alternatives differently. This will sound crazy to you.
(a) The backward planner describes his goal, then fills in.
(b) The forward planner describes his current state, makes
recommendations for action, then describes a goal.
(Add to (b) the "wasting agenda phenomena": initial items get the
attention and later items are tabled.)
The Department of Defense is committed to (b), plus the wasting agenda.
Quite large planning projects may never seriously discuss a goal! Local
reengineers play into it by saying, "You have to know where you are before
you decide where you are going." Challenge this, and the reaction is the
same as when you misspeak in church. The first irony is that everybody
knows perfectly well where they are, from countless hours discussing power
relations and policy minutiae. The second irony is that (a) is used when
it really counts -- for military operations.
The committment to (b) is not easily explained. There are a lot of flip
remarks about individuals and their motivations, such as that nobody wants
to lose their job, but of course nobody ever is fired. But it could be
something like Bateson's crazy-making structures: you are asked to plan,
but also asked not to plan, and the only solution (if you choose to remain
sane) is to go limp.