Congratulations on making it halfway, you are rapidly becoming a competent creative and lateral thinker!

Welcome to week two of my free training program.

Before we proceed to lesson 8, please take a moment to consider the following questions:

Are you GENUINELY of the opinion that:

  • You are learning skills that you will put easily and readily into practice?
  • You will use these skills every day?
  • You will consider them with every encounter, situation, and opportunity?
  • Your neural pathways are beginning to take shape as you question everything and the skills you develop become second nature?

You should hopefully be able to say “yes” by now, but if you can’t, stay positive, and please consider my advice below . . .

We ALL enjoy doing things we’re good at in front of others . . . showing off. We ALL enjoy having our opinions and ideas appreciated and sought after . . . to be valued. We ALL love helping others, particularly the people in our lives that we care about. We ALL want to be successful and be someone who inspires success in others. If you master these lessons, you are on the path to these things and much, much more.

If you believe that you’re not firmly on the right path, try the following:

  1. Share your new found skills and learning with people you know and care about. Lateral thinking, creativity, and personal development are fun, they make great conversation, and they are appropriate for all ages from 3 to 103. If you are to truly become a skilled and proficient protagonist, lateral thinking and other skills taught here should become second nature to everything you do. Be excited. Tell everyone;
  2. Confidence comes with competence and competence comes with practice. Maybe you’ve not had a great deal of success so far with your efforts to create something new, innovative and creative? Do not move forward until you are completely on top of the topics already covered. Practice, practice, and practice again. Experiment, discuss, practice and discuss some more. I have never met a person who can’t master these simple techniques . . . eventually; and
  3. Contact me and let me know what you’re experiencing. Your experience will help me to refine and improve the lessons. Know that I’m here to help, no charge. Please leave a comment below or use my Contact page for anything more complex you are having trouble with.

Michael Muxworthy – Author

Lateral Thinking Investigations . . . of the Third Kind.

Day 8 – Free lateral thinking and creativity lesson

Start your thinking where you want to end up and “backwards plan”.

This is my favorite lateral thinking/creative technique which features prominently throughout the first novel of my “Lateral thinking investigations . . . of the third kind” series of novels that is quickly nearing completion. THIS IS FICTION. YOU WILL BELIEVE.

THIS IS FICTION. YOU WILL a lateral thinking journey of discovery as we “backwards plan” an alien devised solution to the approaching evolutionary trial of the Armageddon event. If you LOVE creative and lateral thinking as I do, you’re going to love the lateral thinking adventures and creative revelations of the “Lateral thinking investigations . . . of the third kind” series that will be available soon.

I often use “backwards planning” when I’m trying to convince others as to the merits of a particular way of doing things, or a particular path to take. Once again, this is a fantastic discipline to share with kids, particularly adolescents. Sometimes people lose their way, or they lose focus on where they are going. Teenagers in particular. This is a very simple technique that kids love to use.


Getting to the supermarket.

Imagine yourself arriving at the supermarket. You pull into a car space, get out of the car and lock it for safety.

What happened before that?

You drive from your home to the supermarket.

What happened before that?

You got into your car with everything you need for the trip.

Before that?

You checked you have everything for the trip.

Before that?

You planned what you needed and got the items together.

Now, we put our plan “backwards” plan into forward action:

  1. Plan what is needed and get the items together;
  2. Check before leaving that you have everything;
  3. Drive to supermarket;
  4. Park and lock the car.

Nobody would need to “backwards” plan such a simple exercise of course, but let’s see what happens when we apply it to something slightly more complex . . .


Box of tricks

Your target is to teach a child how to pick up their toys and put them in a large toy box in an orderly fashion. You should involve the child in the “backwards” planning so that they understand the plan and the steps along the way.

What needs to happen just before all the toys are tidy, in the box, and in order of priority?

The child needs to put the toys in order of their importance/demand so that toys of least demand go to the bottom.

What needs to happen just before that?

All of the pieces of the toys are assembled and gathered together so that they go into the toybox complete.

What needs to happen before that?

The child needs to get all the toys and various pieces together.

What needs to happen before that?

The child needs to understand what we are trying to do and to be made enthusiastic about the project by describing the ultimate outcome.

Now, with our “backwards” plan in place, let’s move forward with the child:

  1. We start by engaging the child’s imagination as we describe a tidy bedroom and well-organized toy box with easy access to the toys in greatest demand, and with the least required toys being at the bottom of the box; all the pieces of each toy assembled correctly;
  2. Next, you ask the child to gather all the toys together making sure there are no bits and pieces missing or left out. You help the child assemble everything, but as much as possible, give ownership of the process to the child;
  3. Next, help the child to lay out the toys in order of preference, checking to make sure that all the pieces have been found before being put away, a task the child will understand and totally enjoy;
  4. Next, you show the child that by putting the least required toys at the bottom and working up to the most “in demand” toys at the top, there is less opportunity/need for toy Armageddon in the future.

What benefits have come from this “backwards” planning exercise?

  1. The child has an ordered and structured method that they understand for tidying up their toys;
  2. The child can change their toy priority without supervision in future tidy-ups;
  3. The child will likely lose a lot less of the toys’ various components;
  4. You have imparted a creative process to the child that can easily be repeated over and over again.

This simple process has created a vastly superior solution to teaching a child to put their toys away. Would you agree?

Key benefits of “backwards planning”:

  • you can easily demonstrate and involve others in a strategy YOU have created;
  • we can often create superior methods and outcomes;
  • we can easily recognize if our plan is off course and quickly rectify/correct the situation.

Let’s look at a much more complex example.


I aspire to be a world-renowned author, famous for bringing lateral thinking into the field of creative writing. I hope to achieve this by 2020.

I commenced, and “backwards” planned, this journey early in 2017:

What will happen just before I achieve my goal?

My book goes viral.

Before that?

A top publisher with worldwide publishing expertise launches my book (several months before the end of 2019 at the very latest).

Before that?

Speculation about the book and its shocking claims goes viral on the internet and news services around the world. I should aim for late 2019 or sooner.

Before that?

A top Literary agent successfully represents my book to a top publisher (Mid-2019).

Before that?

The book is recognized by a literary agent for its potential (early 2019).

Before that?

The book is completed to exacting standards. (End 2019)

Before that?

A high-profile marketing plan brings the book to early prominence. (Near end 2018)

Before that?

I devise a marketing plan. (Beginning 2018)

Before that?

I write a first draft copy. (end of 2017)

This website and these free lessons are a small part of a much larger marketing strategy that will achieve my goals because I KNOW what I must do as I have a clear forward working projection that has timeframes and clearly set objectives.

Each of the ‘backwards” planned major steps in the previous exercise have themselves been individually “backwards” planned to minute detail. I am on schedule to success as a world-renowned author.

Anyone wanna bet against me?

Backwards planning WORKS!

I’m betting on it!!



Okay, that’s it for today. Let’s just summarize where we are up to but with a slight rearrangement of the lesson points so they flow a little better.

You can now share and discuss your understanding of the need for creativity and what it involves:

  • Creative thinking is merely the combining of two or more ideas that haven’t been combined/considered before;
  • Our education and life experiences can often lead to a “blinkered” viewpoint; and
  • Never be afraid to defy the experts. Experts are often reduced to being cogs stuck in the machinery of their own expertise.

Creative thinking/lateral thinking skills that you can now use are:

  1. Random starting points;
  2. Considering alternative viewpoints/perspectives;
  3. Challenging the status quo by asking “why?”
  4. Look off the path of dominant thinking; and
  5. Backwards planning for achieving goals.


Remember to always share and discuss what you have learned. More than just discuss, try teaching others what you have learned.


Leave a comment below to let us know your thoughts and experiences. Commentary about the author being a little crazy, whilst true, should not be posted.


Perhaps the most startling lateral thinking derived discovery revealed in Roswell’s Final Witness is that we identify exactly what UFOs are.

UFO’s are alien, but they are not spacecraft or any other sort of transport or object used to visit our Earth. When I break the shackles of your preconceived misconceptions and you find out what they are, you’ll say something like . . .

“Oh my God, of course, how did we not see that?”

Lateral thinking derived solutions, whilst logical, often only appear to be obvious once you point them out. 

The writing of THIS IS FICTION. YOU WILL BELIEVE is almost complete.

Michael Muxworthy – Disruptive Author

Lateral Thinking Investigations . . . of the Third Kind

Fiction book cover file

These free lateral thinking lessons are brought to you by Michael John Muxworthy

2 thoughts on “Lesson 8 – Backwards Planning

  1. Hi Michael

    To help get me started, could you recommend a couple of simple examples to practice with? Everyday stuff that will help build up to the bigger things…


    1. Start simple. Backwards plan some activities around your domestic/home life first:
      – Build the perfect garden bed, weed free and easy maintenance;
      – A small renovation around the home;
      – Something a child wants but must work for. They will understand and achieve the desired result if there is a clear path forward with measurable benchmarks that have been clearly defined by a backwards plan.
      Next, step up to a wider circle of friends and family:
      – Set an objective with friends, family or neighbors;
      – Bring people together for something special;
      – Create an event, or organize a sporting comp/team.
      Take it to work:
      – Set a target and map it out for all to become involved;
      – Set personal and private targets of progress/promotion/payrise and clearly understand what must happen beforehand. (Agree to benchmarks with the boss);
      – Learn a new skill that will be valued and used in the workplace. Map out the integration you imagine.

      All these things involve the setting of goals, of building or creating better outcomes. First, you must decide what important things are happening, or could/should happen in your life, and then try starting where you HOPE the outcome will be and backwards plan.


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