Too often in our lifetimes, we look back on decisions gone horribly wrong and ask ourselves, “What happened?” Only then might we consider conducting a “post-mortem” in an attempt to put together the broken pieces that will explain how and why our decision failed. However, after your decision has failed is the wrong time to discuss the big problems it originally faced.

What we should’ve done, instead, is held a pre-mortem to look ahead at the challenges that could cause everything to fail, and created a plan to navigate around them. That is exactly the exercise you will undertake for Reflection Journal #2.

Gary Klein, a noted psychologist, explains his concept of a premortem as a sneaky way to get people to do contrarian, devil’s advocate thinking without encountering resistance. Utilized before the project starts or decision is made, we should say, “We’re looking in a crystal ball, and this project has failed; it’s a fiasco. Now, everybody, take two minutes and write down all the reasons why you think the project failed.” The logic is that instead of showing people that you are smart because you can come up with a good plan, you show you’re smart by thinking of insightful reasons why this project might go south. If you make it part of your corporate culture, then you create an interesting competition: “I want to come up with some possible problem that other people haven’t even thought of.” The whole dynamic changes from trying to avoid anything that might disrupt harmony to trying to identify potential problems.

Please use the following criteria when completing your assignment:

a) Select a meaningful, but “future”, decision you are going to have to face in your career, (examples include a promotion, dismissal, relocation, lawsuit, career change, etc.);

b) Assuming your decision will fail miserably, conduct a pre-mortem on the decision by identifying potential pitfalls you may encounter;

c) Remember that your submission should demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of the course readings in your analysis / description – utilize at least three (3) out of the four (4) potential pitfalls identified in Think Again chapters five (5) through eight (8);

d) In effect, you are trying to identify why your decision might lead to a poor outcome before you actually finalize the decision. Based on your analysis, address whether or not you will reconsider how you approach this important decision?

e) At the end of the paper please write a few sentences telling me what, if anything, you learned from doing this assignment.

Please note: if you prefer, you can use a future decision from your personal life instead, (marriage, divorce, children, gender identity change, etc.), as long as you apply the methodology described above.

The end result should be maximum 1250 words.

Should you wish for more information about the premortem process, please check out:

Gary Klien, “Performing a Project Premortem,” Harvard Business Review, September 2007, p18-19; and Deborah J. Mitchell, J. Edward Russo, and Nancy Pennington, “Back to the Future: Temporal Perspective in the Explanation of Events,” Journal of Behavioural Decision Making 2, no.1 1989, p25-38)

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