January 7, 2017 Andy Green

Do a ‘Pre-Mortem’ on 2017 to make your planning and strategic thinking even more powerful

This plan failed - Why?

Do you want to be really prepared for all the opportunities and challenges that 2017 throws at you? Then you need to do a Pre-Mortem.

“You’re familiar with the concept of Post-Mortem – where you review and quickly identify what didn’t work, what went wrong – and who was to blame. All made easy by that greatest of gifts – hindsight.

One of your greatest enemies to your planning is over-optimism. Yes, even pessimistic you can be guilty of over emphasising the positive in your thinking.

Optimism bias is recognised by behavioural scientists, such as Robert Cialdini, for encouraging you to overstate the positive and underestimate the negative in your future planning.

So if you are planning for 2017, devising new strategies or new ideas you need to be aware of your optimism bias, and take constructive steps to counter its pervasiveness.

A great tool I use is the ‘Pre-Mortem’. It is a great way to help you overcome undue optimism or failing to fully appreciate certain risks.


How does a Pre-Mortem work? It can be quickly done in five steps:


  1. Imagine yourself in the future at the end of your campaign, project or year.
  2. Imagine in this scenario everything that could go disastrously wrong has.
  3. What should you have done to avoid, limit or eliminate the potential risk?
  4. Now go back to your present. What lessons did you learn from your ‘Pre-Mortem’?
  5. What do you need to do different?


Now you have a more robust, resilient and realizable plan of action – thanks to your Pre-Mortem.

Enjoy your journey through 2017. Thanks to your Pre-Mortem it’s a voyage more likely to be robust, resilient and realizable.

If you are about to do planning for 2017, a strategic review, or brainstorm get in touch for an informal chat where I can help you with ideas for tools or how to structure your planning event.