top of page


Project Autopsy? No Way! Use a Premortem to Prevent Failure From the Start

💥 𝗬𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗷𝗲𝗰𝘁 𝗳𝗮𝗶𝗹𝗲𝗱. 𝗗𝗢𝗔! 💥

Your team is frustrated and depressed.

Looking back over the past few months, you realize the signs were all there.

With hindsight, it's easy to say, 'Why didn't we anticipate that'?

Many teams conduct a postmortem analysis at the end of projects to learn from what went wrong.

A different tool - a 𝑷𝑹𝑬𝑴𝑶𝑹𝑻𝑬𝑴 - can help you avoid the failure altogether.

A 𝗽𝗿𝗲𝗺𝗼𝗿𝘁𝗲𝗺 takes place at the start of your project to ensure it has a healthy and happy life.

𝗦𝘁𝗲𝗽𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝗮 𝗽𝗿𝗲𝗺𝗼𝗿𝘁𝗲𝗺:

✔️ Before a project starts, ask your team to imagine themselves in the future — a future where the project is a disaster, a total trainwreck. Elaborate on what that future will look like and how it will feel.
✔️ Ask team members to write down why they think failure occurred for 2 minutes. Doing this individually before the group starts sharing is important to avoid groupthink and obtain maximum ideas.
✔️ Team members share what they wrote. Create a consolidated list, combining concerns that are similar.
✔️ Prioritize the concerns by 1) the likelihood it might happen and 2) the impact if it does happen. Discuss the items to arrive at a final prioritized list using a voting method like 'dot voting' if desired.
✔️ The last step is to develop action plans to avoid or mitigate the most likely and highest impact concerns. You could hold a second meeting to tackle them as a group or assign two team members to each one to work on recommendations.

𝗪𝗵𝘆 𝗱𝗼𝗲𝘀 𝗶𝘁 𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗸?

🎯 It bypasses our cognitive biases by shifting perspective
🎯 It encourages team members to be transparent in sharing their concerns
🎯 It creates a safe environment for dissent
🎯 It provides a forum for out-of-the-box thinking

This technique was popularized by Gary Klein. Click this link to read his HBR article.

Give it a try. Your project can be improved rather than autopsied!


Featured Posts
bottom of page