Are You Performing Pre-Mortems on Your Projects? | Leadership

I learned about this concept from listening to Astro Teller at an Innovation Conference where he was speaking. He describes the “pre-mortem” as an exercise used by organizations to identify possible pitfalls it may encounter. Teams imagine in great detail that a project has launched and then predict what could go wrong; and depending on the likelihood and seriousness of the problem, the organization can take proactive steps to prevent it from happening.

Teller says, when everybody is suffering from launch fever and they are very excited about the project, that you should ask the question:  If three months from now our launch is an abysmal failure – why is it?

He also suggests providing teams with real incentives and rewards to encourage them to:

  • Be hungry to discover the Achilles Heel of projects as fast as humanly possible
  • Clearly imagine the launch, identify its weaknesses, and discuss the learning moment of a failure before it actually becomes a failure.

It’s an interesting thought experiment – a pre-launch failure. If you have performed this type of exercise before, I encourage you to share your experience below.

Please share this with members of your professional community. If you want to join the CIO Innovation Insider Community, email to receive the latest updates on events, content, podcasts, and more!