Plan for failure

There are several ways to prevent failure, right? Early validation, continual feedback loops, learning from past mistakes… But what if you took it a step further and planned for the possibility of failure?

I’m not talking about exit strategies or disbanded project teams, I’m talking about envisioning the many ways in which your plan could fail, then taking the appropriate steps to increase your chances for success.

That’s the thinking behind a premortem:

1. create a plan
2. see it go up in flames
3. write down and talk through the many reasons why
4. build in those contingencies

The key is to lay it all on the table. For some, it involves asking your team members to jot down every conceivable reason why your project could fall apart, then having a serious roundtable regarding everyone’s answers. For others, it means drumming up the courage to talk to trusted friends and colleagues for feedback on why a project could backfire, then taking matters into their own hands.

Give it a go at your next kickoff or planning session and let me know how it went.

To learn more:
Performing a Project Premortem by Gary Klein

image: WorldIslandInfo dot com (futuristmovies dot com). CC BY 2.0.