Reverse Engineering: The Genius of starting with the end and planning backward to today
Reverse Engineering is a term commonly used to refer to something man-made that is deconstructed in order to reveal how the thing works. From physical machines to software to military or other tech and even biological functions related to the ways genes work! With enough curiosity and ingenuity, a person could learn how an analog watch keeps time or how an audio speaker conducts and amplifies sound, etc. by carefully disassembling one, examining the inner workings, and figuring out how they work together to produce the desired end result.
In today’s digital world this approach requires a whole different set of tools and background understanding. After all, the basic definition of a watch now includes what is basically a smaller wearable version of the extremely portable but powerful personal computing devices we all carry around but still identify as “phones”, though they themselves are a far cry indeed from the first telephones. Instead of gears inside an analog watch, one would find tiny circuit boards, silicon chips, and much more delicately placed inside any Apple or Android “watch”.
The concept of reverse engineering is not applicable to tangible “things” alone. One can readily take an idea, focus on and identify with specificity the end result that they wish to achieve, then break down the steps leading to that end goal, working backward from what would be required to reach it.
When applied to say, a business idea, reverse engineering can be utilized not only to break down the bigger picture end goal of the business but individual areas can be compartmentalized as a part of the process to make sure all aspects of the business are being designed with the end result in mind.
Then, once the components required have all been planned out with their particular function to maximize effectiveness and efficiency, they can be plugged into other elements and tweaked to make sure something that works seamlessly on its own doesn’t interfere with another area required for the business to function properly.
It is all too easy to be so occupied working in one’s business that it gets difficult to pull back from the day-to-day operation and work on the business from a less granular perspective. This is not a bad thing per se, just a fact of life for many entrepreneurs.
Having the proper tools when it comes to reverse engineering anything is crucial. A standard screwdriver might be exactly what is needed to begin to disassemble one thing and completely useless if attempting to do the same with something else.
The same is true when it comes to using this concept when applying it to ideas or projects versus objects.
If you had a long list of projects crying out for attention as a homeowner, it might make sense to first put that list down on paper or a whiteboard for starters, just to get the scope of work into a manageable place to begin to organize it. Left inside one’s head, with visual reminders nagging, a list such as this could easily feel overwhelming.
Then, once everything has been laid out it can be easier to prioritize and put things in an order that makes sense. You could even enter them into a spreadsheet including how much each project will cost, whether it is a DIY thing you have the skill and time to complete, or if it will make better sense to hire a professional and arrange projects in order of priority including seasonal considerations and the domino effect, such as having gutter repairs made prior to replacing drywall damaged by water leakage from faulty rain gutters, etc.
As Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”, and it can happen without our noticing until our trajectory opposite the direction we want to go becomes apparent.
How do you think planning with the end in mind could help your planning to be more effective? How could you best put the concept of Reverse Engineering into practice in your life? In your business? Is it a concept you’ve applied successfully?
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