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Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Premortem Examination: "What Went Wrong?"

Speculators, companies, and sophisticated analysts perfom a PREMORTEM EXAMINATION. They "look back" from an assumed future date to determine 'what went south' and failed. The 'premortem' improves project outcomes an estimated 30 percent. 

The premortem informs what might go wrong and improve decision-making. It can avoid confirmation bias and overconfidence. 

Author Gary Klein, who wrote Sources of Power, shares insights on the Premortem at HBR.org. Here are critical excerpts:

"By making it safe for dissenters who are knowledgeable about the undertaking and worried about its weaknesses to speak up, you can improve a project’s chances of success." We have all witnessed leaders reject unwelcome criticism from concerned stakeholders.

"The team members’ task is to generate plausible reasons for the project’s failure." 

"Those in the room independently write down every reason they can think of for the failure—especially the kinds of things they ordinarily wouldn’t mention as potential problems, for fear of being impolitic." 

As we launch a basketball season, asking "what went wrong" in advance seems painfully obvious. 

1) Attribution bias. Blame events beyond our control - bad luck in close games, officiating, injuries, or illness. Weather caused missed practices. Our key players were out. Does it matter? Control what you can control.  

2) Culture wars. Team chemistry failed. Who owns that? Last night I reminded players about their commitment. They do not play for the community, their school, for their families, or even for me. "You play for each other, the girl next to you." 

3) Development failure. Practice didn't produce offensive cohesion (especially early offense), skill growth (shooting), or reducing mistakes (turnovers). Players struggled to grasp new concepts. "What has not been learned hasn't been taught." We trade in reality, not in excuses. 

4) I am the problem. The coach owns culture, team selection, skill and team development, and the allocation of resources (practice time, philosophy, playing time). Development and competitiveness, not winning, are the primary goals. That may not always translate to the most wins. But we're playing the long game. 

Heather McCloskey provides detailed inquiry into product rollout here.  

Bonus: Last night we held a "tutorial" on a few 3-on-3 actions - high ball screen with corner, scissors action, UCLA cut, Flex action, and "blind pig." Scissors action can also occur off the ball. 


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