The one thing I like about the inversion technique is that it's such a cheat code for life. Every time I've used it, it helped me avoid bad decisions preventing the achievement of any goal.
As a marketer, you can be so focused on what is explicitly required to achieve your goals that stupid – and most importantly, avoidable – mistakes end up costing you that goal.
Look, when we solve problems, most of the time we approach them forwards. We define an important goal, lay out a series of steps to follow to reach that goal, and execute those steps in sequential order.
Sometimes, however, thinking about a problem backward can help us reach a goal or solution when a forward-oriented method is ambiguous.
Instead of focusing on the achievement of a positive outcome, ask yourself: How might I achieve a terrible outcome?
Let that guide your decision making.
Another important thing: Inversion also helps us to see problems from a different perspective. It encourages fresh thinking and ultimately can stimulate innovation.
The techniques of inversion thinking
Stoic philosophers would employ an exercise called the premeditation of evils. They imagine their worst-case scenarios, get over the fear of those results, and create simple strategies for preventive solutions.
Mathematicians, ancient philosophers, thinkers from different scientific fields, innovators, and even billionaires have adopted this approach to meet their own goals and solve hard problems.
Kurt Lewin, the German-American psychologist, came up with one of the theoretical foundations for this type of thinking in the 1930s.
He named it "force field analysis", which pretty much recognizes that in any situation where change is desired, successful management of that change requires applied inversion.
This is his process: