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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Lerner

Inversion Thinking

As a child, you probably figured out how to “hack” a maze: If you start at the end and work backwards, it’s much easier.


It turns out that process actually has a name. It’s called “inversion thinking” in Systems Theory, and it’s a powerful tool for "startup grownups" too.


Your "backlog" is probably full of ideas that look grand and promising. But which ones should you test? (The one you got from your investor? The one that worked for your friend's startup?)


So, the quickest way to pare back 95% of your backlog is inversion thinking: Start with a (permanent) “North Star Metric” that everyone understands (e.g., nights booked for Airbnb). Then focus on a quarterly “rate-limiting step” metric. Anything on your backlog that will not obviously move that metric within a three-month timeframe… off the list!


Once you start with the goal and work backwards, the to-do list becomes much clearer and idea inundation disappears.

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