I recently began reading “Courage is Calling” by Ryan Holiday. Then yesterday, as I was reflecting on where I was spending my discretionary time, I realized I had slowed way down on my book reading. In fact, I remembered I had only partially read “The Obstacle is the Way”, another Ryan Holiday book. So in that moment, I resolved to finish the stack of half-read books sitting on my desk.
Last night, in anticipation of trying to meet this new goal, I set out to finish “The Obstacle is the Way”. In the chapter titled “Anticipation (Thinking Negatively)”, Holiday addresses how present-day companies use Gary Klein’s concept of “pre-mortem” to consider what is likely to fail spectacularly during a project. Pre-mortem uses a strategy of polling employees to find out what they think the most likely reason would be for failure. The objective is to help team members speak up about problems they see when going into a project, so they don’t remain silent about issues and allow the project to fail. You can read more about the process here.
I can’t help but imagine how obvious this concept might be to many of you, as I know a number of our readers are engineers, or work closely with them. I would say roughly half of the people I talk to each week are engineers! My point is, by their training engineers are forced to think this way. I remember my younger self listening to my dad talk about how my engineer uncle would always take so long to make a decision. Today, I like to think he was performing a similar mental exercise in order to come to a good decision.
Whether you’re an engineer or not, this concept is a great one! I plan to use it for every project, big or small, that we embark on here at Managed Solutions. I do this to some degree as a part of my personal process, mostly for larger projects, but I now realize I am missing out on a lot of wisdom by not encompassing more of the brain power from my team into the effort.
What about you and your team? Is this concept something you could utilize more often? The impact it could make on the success of future projects is enticing.
As a token of appreciation for the loyal readers of this newsletter, I will send a free copy of either “Courage is Calling” or “The Obstacle is the Way” to the first 10 people who respond to this email with their name and address. If you live outside the USA, I can’t promise I will be able to fulfill this offer, but I will certainly try!
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(This newsletter was originally published on October 8, 2021.)
Image courtesy of Johnny Gutierrez