Analyze Failure – Before You Even Begin

April 6, 2011

Sounds kind of strange doesn’t it?  Analyzing failure – even before you begin a project?

Guy Kawasaki, in his book Enchantment, talks about the benefits of doing a premortem.  Now most of us know about a postmortem.  In medicine it is an examination to try to determine the cause of death.  In project work, it is the process whereby we try to determine why a project failed.

The premortem is quite different – it is the attempt to prevent the death of a project rather than explaining it.

Here is how it works:  Assemble your team before the start of the project or in its very early stages.  Ask your team members to assume the project has failed and to determine the possible reasons for the failure of the project.  Once the team lists all the possible causes of failure of the project, they then begin figuring out how to prevent these causes of failure from occurring.  The idea is to prevent the problems in order to increase the chances of success.

He lists the five benefits of a premortem:

1. Identification of problems in advance rather than after they occur.

2. Reduction of the likelihood of premature embarkation.

3. More creative and organized approaches to the challenges the teams will face.

4. Heightened sensitivity to early warning signs, since the team has already considered them.

5. Participation by more team members because of the less political environment.

Sounds like a very creative and nonthreatening way to prepare for a project.

Hope your week is going well!

Finally starting to sort of look like Spring here in Southwest Michigan!

BG

 

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  1. Twelve Questions That Could Improve Your Team’s Decision Making | BG Allen - July 5, 2011

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