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Pre-mortem – risk planning

Use this activity to conduct a pre-mortem of your project to proactively visualise, identify and mitigate project risk.

Launch Miro activity

  • Time
    1 hour
  • Casting
    5-10 team members
  • Tool

Use for: Identifying and overcoming blind spots in your project
When: At the start of your project (and when you’re underway)
With: The whole team

Resources include:

Running a pre-mortem

Activity guide

This activity will help teams imagine the possible failure state so that a project can be improved at the start rather than autopsied at the end. It looks back from the imagined future to tell a story about what might cause your project to fail.

What’s it for

Encouraging teams to be imaginative in identifying and overcoming blind spots early on, to strengthen projects.

What you’ll get

A list of risks and actions to take which help your project succeed.

When to do it

When your team is starting a project, though you can run the activity again later on when your project is already underway.

How it works

Before you start this activity

  • Think about who has a stake in your project that might be critical or sceptical and include them on your pre-mortem team.
  • Put together key project details and context to use at the start of your session.

Step 1: Imagine a future state where things have gone wrong

Step 2: Group the reasons for failure

Step 3: Prioritise the risks

Step 4: Assign people responsible

What’s next

  • Document any risks in your research plan.
  • Revisit the list of risks and track the progress of the actions you've identified as part of your regular project check-ins.
  • Run the pre-mortem again when things are going well. Doing this can help you avoid falling into optimism bias as the project gains momentum towards a solution.



This activity is contributed by Elena Berrocal Capdevila, Customer Experience Unit, Department of Customer Service.