Pre-mortem Scenario Planning with Flowcharts

“There’s also the “pre-mortem” – in which the team is told to assume a course of action has failed and to explain why—which makes team members feel safe to express doubts they may have about the leader’s plan. But the super-teams did not start with leaders and norms, which created other challenges.” ― Philip Tetlock

Dissent (a term that denotes deviation from the norm) – in the form of alternative perspectives and modes of thought/visualization that flow contrary to the mainstream – retains a central position in acts of evolved planning and development of strategy. Modern thinkers term this as pre-mortem scenario planning that visualizes specific activity in a plethora of domains. Such pursuit finds articulation as “a strategic planning activity that imagines a project has failed; this type of thinking helps identify and mitigate risks early on in the planning phase.

The utility of pre-mortem scenario planning resides in its ability to promote constructive outcomes in projects, reduce risk that stems from the un-planned and the un-premeditated, generating positive momentum in tune with timelines embedded inside projects, and exploring a variety of potential outcomes and assessing these for value/worth. Such scenario planning can find effective exploration inside flowcharts and the spaces contained in these remarkable two-dimensional diagrams.

Captains of industry and strategy planners could undertake pre-mortem scenario planning from the perspective of ensuring high profitability. Such an exercise could take shape through implementations that promote high quality in terms of production standards, tactics to lower the costs of raw materials over long-term horizons, regular assessments of the flavor of consumer sentiment, the utilization of environment-friendly manufacturing processes, among others. This matrix could be etched inside flowcharts – and emerge as a guiding light for the modern corporation. Instances of exceptions could find expression inside said illustration in pursuit of pre-mortem scenario planning, thereby allowing planners to ideate on alternative scenarios. The flowchart could also promote the creation of interesting departures from standard scenarios, thereby equipping the corporation to generate additional structures that drive profitability.

Failure or disaster – a potential scenario with serious consequences – represents the moving spirit that animates various sessions of pre-mortem scenario planning. For instance, a corporate organization that seeks to plan/execute a special project worth millions of Dollars could visualize failures through a variety of scenarios. When designed inside flowcharts, such an initiative requires the corporate leadership to project all manner of dystopia that could ruin a multi-million dollar investment. The illustration that attends this pre-mortem scenario planning session could emerge through a succession of stages, each describing a build-up of factors or random interventions that operate outside the domain of logic. These structures also demonstrate their individual, deleterious impact on project outcomes. Subsequently, the multiple flows of information inside the diagram emerge as the nucleus of sets of actions/plans designed to ameliorate/contain the negative fallout. Clearly, flowcharts remain the best instrument that enable effective instances of sophisticated pre-mortem scenario planning.

Scenario planning is defined as a structured way for organizations to think about the future.” In this context, the idea of pre-mortem scenario planning gains heft in the context of modern commerce. For instance, the manufacturers of premium fruit juice products could undertake such an exercise prior to the launch of the product; they could empower a panel of experts and consultants to conduct pre-mortem scenario planning in tune with the various conditions prevailing in major markets. The use of flowcharts and the spaces/mechanics contained therein allows said panel to sketch a variety of scenarios from the commercial, technological, and marketing points of view. Additions to the flowchart could take shape in the form of demand/supply analysis, the costs of implementing commercial plans, the competitive landscape of said product, among others. Clearly, the use of inter-connected illustrations allows commercial entities to explore every contour prior to entry into markets.

Practical and actionable – these attributes must be the guiding lights for any pre-mortem scenario planning exercise. In line with this, individuals participating in such planning could consider using the stages and sub-stages inside flowcharts to drill-down into a variety of scenarios. For instance, manufacturers of automotive products could envisage structural deficiency as a primary factor that lowers the quality of new automobiles. This could be a starting point that enables analysts/strategists to explore various techniques to address said problem. They could also seek to select the first ten causes that contribute to structural deficiency; subsequently, solutions could emerge around each cause, thereby completing the expanse of the flowchart diagram. Such an illustration could spark additional insights into the design/manufacturing process, thereby creating scope for innovations to emerge in said industry.

A pre-mortem is a useful structure to help identify and prioritize project risks.” In line with this masterful assertion, planners of a project could initiate pre-mortem scenario planning with a sharp focus on actual and perceived risks that projects may encounter. The flowchart, in this instance, could take shape as a tiered diagram that describes various stages of projects and illuminates the risks attending each stage. Subsequently, designers may incorporate workarounds and alternatives that reduce risks inside said project. Additionally, analysts could examine the risks with a view to devise fresh editions of sections and sub-sections that constitute the master project. In essence, flowcharts allow a detailed analysis undertaken from a singular perspective; these illustrations also enable new thinking in terms of de-risking means and measures. The outcomes of such exertion could include accelerated timelines that help projects to attain completion.

Remote teams – a reality in the contemporary world – could further the cause of collaboration by participating in custom instances of pre-mortem scenario planning. In this context, flowcharts could take the shape of a tabular format populated by a series of queries. Each query could seek to explore ideas, questions, gray spaces, concerns, and potential blind spots that could impact outcomes of projects. In essence, the flowchart operates as a sounding board that interrogates the intellect of each participant, invites a cross-pollination of thoughts/ideas, and emerges as a site that enables brainstorming at the team/individual level. Subsequently, the flowchart could record inputs from teams – thereby demonstrating its effectiveness in pre-mortem scenario planning. The content of such diagrams could find centerstage in sets of best practices that could galvanize remote teams into highly efficient, yet distributed workforces.

Exploring the nature of scenarios – and their moving parts – must represent a prime aspect of pre-mortem scenario planning. Such exploration could proceed in terms of analysis that pivot on tactics and strategy. In line with this, designers of flowcharts could architect a series of illustrations that analyze various scenarios from multiple points of view. This line of action helps create a detailed picture of pre-mortem, thereby helping analysts with information, insights, and intuition. For instance, an intelligent planner could utilize such a matrix to generate multiple lines of solution; this technique also empowers analysts to input their experience as part of efforts to visualize a variety of scenarios. Additionally, ideas and reflections that feature inside the illustration could attract votes from participants, thereby accelerating the process of analysis.

The thoughts, ideas, and techniques encased above illuminate our understanding of the headline topic and its many expressions/renditions inside flowcharts. Every planner or participant in such activity must invest effort to generate greater levels of illustration and detail that could service the primary objective enshrined in such voyages of the intellect. Flowcharts can ally with planning activities to create additional levels of complexity inside scenario planning actions. These layers could merit new attempts at examination and analysis.

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