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The Project Pre-Mortem: Harnessing prospective hindsight for healthier projects.

March 20, 2016

The Project Pre-Mortem: Harnessing prospective hindsight for healthier projects.


March 20, 2016

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  1. “..prospective hindsight - imagining that an event has already occurred

    - increases the ability to correctly identify reasons for future outcomes by 30 %” Gary, Klein - Harvard Business Review, September 2007 https://hbr.org/2007/09/performing-a-project-premortem/
  2. Gather your team Set aside time (min 1 hour), space,

    post-its and pens. Everyone involved in the project should attend (even the client).
  3. Frame the scenario What are you about to embark on

    that’s going to fail spectacularly? A plan or design challenge you’re about to execute.
  4. Imagine complete disaster Visualise the worst possible outcome. Your app

    bombed. Your design didn’t convert. Your workshop flopped.
  5. Generate reasons for failure Why did you fail so spectacularly?

    A post-it per reason. The more imaginative the better.
  6. Find the themes Invite each person to present their reasons

    for failure. Find familiar failures and group them.
  7. Agree next steps Create executable next steps to put your

    solutions in place. Delegate tasks and schedule a follow-up.
  8. 1. Imagine complete disaster 2. Generate reasons for failure 3.

    Find the themes 4. Prioritise the showstoppers 5. Brainstorm solutions 6. Agree next steps
  9. • Improves the odds of success. • Encourages teamwork. •

    Practices divergent and convergent thinking. • A win for the team, before the project has started. • Creates a positive forum for expressing concerns. Bonus benefits