The Backcasting Approach to Strategic Plan Development


Washington State's Snohomish County is one of the fastest growing counties in the nation. To fulfill its commitment of service to this growing community, the Public Works Department needed to develop a five-year strategic plan that could adapt within a dynamic operating environment. 


We combined the strategy development best practices of visioning and backcasting with the planning best practices of balanced scorecard and work plan development. Integrated within these tools and techniques were periodic continuous improvement reviews performed by a certified Lean Six-Sigma expert.

The project began with a focus on updating vision and mission and identifying top business priorities for the coming five years. With these strategic markers established, a series of planning workshops were facilitated across divisional leadership teams. The workshops resulted in a collection of strategic goals in each division, aligned to the five-year vision and operating priorities.


The combination of tools and techniques used for visioning, backcasting and a balanced scorecard evaluation, combined with facilitated sessions designed to produce decisions and content in limited timeframes, supported an effective planning process that was tailored to the culture and objectives of the Department.

The Public Works Department has aligned every work group within each of its three divisions to the new five-year plan. Every team has a role, and everyone is working toward the same long-term outcomes.

The final plan has a clear strategy. Equally important, it has an underlying implementation and oversite plan that is based on detailed work plans that include activities, key objectives, performance metrics, implementation schedule and periodic reviews for the plan’s adaptation to changes in the operating environment.


  • Strategic Planning
  • Organizational Development
  • Capacity Building
  • Project Management
  • Workshop Facilitation
  • Graphic Design


Snohomish County


1 Year


Project Lead:

Tashina Jirikovic Ask Me Questions