It seems like everyone is discussing Risk Management in one form or another these days. As an avid listener to podcasts, I ran across a recent Freakonomics podcast that discussed Risk Management from a bit of a different perspective.
The basic tenet of the podcast was “no one succeeds at everything”. That’s certainly true for me. But it also holds true for lots of other things, projects included. Not every project will be the glowing success we envision when we are selected to lead or be a part of the team. Stephen Dubner and Steve Levitt discussed many different varieties of failures, but it was the last segment of the podcast that really made my ears perk up. Gary Klein, a researcher and author, has designed a risk identification tool called a “pre-mortem”.
We’ve all heard of a “post-mortem”, the process by which a failure is examined after the death of something or someone. But the “pre-mortem” attempts to identify potential failures and ways to mitigate those potential failures during the early phases of a project, product launch, etc.
Without getting into the nitty gritty details of the process, Klein describes essentially a process by which team members and stakeholders are put into a mindset that the project has failed in order to generate a whole host of reasons why the project ended up in the proverbial ditch. The team can then begin to work on identifying mitigation strategies for the most likely failure scenarios.
Klein’s original paper was published in the Harvard Business Review in 2009. The original article can be found here: https://hbr.org/2007/09/performing-a-project-premortem/ar/1
The podcast I referenced has several interesting topics. One of them is a discussion of the events leading up to the January 28, 1986 Challenger Space Shuttle Explosion. The podcast “Failure Is Your Friend” can be found here: http://freakonomics.com/2015/05/20/failure-is-your-friend-a-freakonomics-radio-rebroadcast/