The Project Premortem

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Posted by: stak
Tags: mozilla
Posted on: 2014-03-14 21:33:23

The procedure is simple: when the organization has almost come to an important decision but has not formally committed itself, [Gary] Klein proposes gathering for a brief session a group of individuals who are knowledgeable about the decision. The premise of the session is a short speech: "Imagine that we are a year into the future. We implemented the plan as it now exists. The outcome was a disaster. Please take 5 to 10 minutes to write a brief history of that disaster.

(From Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman)

When I first read about this, it immediately struck me as a very simple but powerful way to mitigate failure. I was interested in trying it out, so I wrote a pre-mortem story for Firefox OS. The thing I wrote turned out to be more like something a journalist would write in some internet rag 5 years from now, but I found it very illuminating to go through the exercise and think of different ways in which we could fail, and to isolate the one I thought most likely.

In fact, I would really like to encourage more people to go through this exercise and have everybody post their results somewhere. I would love to read about what keeps you up at night with respect to the project, what you think our weak points are, and what we need to watch out for. By understanding each others' worries and fears, I feel that we can do a better job of accommodating them in our day-to-day work, and work together more cohesively to Get The Job Done (TM).

Please comment on this post if you are interested in trying this out. I would be very happy to coordinate stuff so that people write out their thoughts and submit them, and we post all the results together (even anonymously if so desired). That way nobody is biased by anybody else's writing.

Posted by Chris Lord at 2014-03-21 05:50:47
I'm interested :)
[ Reply to this ]
Posted by Ehsan Akhgari at 2014-03-27 09:17:08
I'm interested as well!
[ Reply to this ]

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