The Power of Negative Thinking – Part Two

The inspiration and source for much of these articles comes from the excellent Radio 4 Podcast of the same name which is available to download in its entirety from BBC Sounds.

What could go wrong?

As business owners we are well used to the process of trying to figure out what happened when something went wrong and commonly give this process it’s medical term of Post Mortum which is Latin for ‘after death’.

In the process we adopt other medical phrases such as forensic investigation or dissection of the evidence or process to arrive at results or conclusions.

But what if we turned this on it’s head and sought to look at what could potentially go wrong first?

There is a growing body of evidence to support a Pre Mortum (a slightly less creepy translation of before death).

The Pre Mortum seeks to get all significant players involved in a key decision together to think critically but negatively about the scenario in hand. Where is it likely to go wrong? What would be the trigger? What would be the impact? How would this affect the wider business?

Done in this way, those involved will be more engaged and hopefully more open to express niggling doubts or concerns they may have. Compare & contrast this to a Post Mortum situation where often blame is being laid at someone’s door and the mood moves to self protection or a**e covering.

In the Pre Mortum “it” hasn’t happened yet, so there is no impact and hence no blame game to play.

Having worked through the Pre Mortum the important bit is what comes next? How do we take those differing view points, new perspectives and concerns to rework the proposition so that all risks are known, planned for, mitigated at worst and hopefully eradicated at best.

Preparing for the worst outome can help you ensure the best outcome

But with an eye to the positive, the Pre Mortum may also identify that the decision is light in its ambition and as a result more likely to fail as it needs more Oomph. This is not about throwing caution to the wind, but a detailed enquiry as to what will enable a plan to succeed, so the more information, options, perspective and judgement we have allows us to harness this business critical knowledge.

There is an ancient quote which goes ‘the greatest knowledge is knowing you know nothing’.  So if you’re unsure, ask those who just might know.

Did you miss the first instalment? Read it here.