Podcast of the Week: Don’t Become Critical, Become Curious – The Art And Science Of The Pre-Mortem

Anyone who has watched a crime drama knows about the post-mortem. The post-mortem is where they determine the cause of death – “he was poisoned, but then strangled… and there are signs of a struggle.” There is both science and drama as the likely events leading up to the person’s demise are revealed.

Anyone in business should know – but probably doesn’t – about the pre-mortem. The pre-mortem is where a group faced with a decision has made a choice but wants to give the plan one more review. Normally, last-minute criticisms will only affirm the decision. There are politics and egos involved. We’ve all held back in these settings and know the feeling. The pre-mortem is how we put the guarded criticisms aside and invite our group to get curious about the most likely way the plan could be a catastrophic failure. A successful pre-mortem invites and incentivizes creativity. It creates a safe space for the politics and egos to be put to the side.

Gary Klein, Paul Johnson, and Paul Sonkin join Ted Seides on the Capital Allocators Podcast (ep. 109) to talk about pre-mortems, how to perform them well (to do’s and don’t do’s), Klein’s background in coming up with the concept, and their collective experience in using them in the world of business and investing.

It’s a topic that is important as it is fascinating. Any decision-maker will be interested in this one.