“Assumptions that do not associate with probabilities create a false sense of certainty. The Premortem technique raises awareness of possibilities, including their likely consequences, to enrich planning.” Gary Klein

Pre-mortem is a technique of working backward by considering alternatives that emerge from failure assumptions from all members, contributors or collaborators of a project. It broadens the scope of scenarios examined and can include key factors.

Decision makers are enabled to gain input from project members that otherwise often remain untapped but can be of key relevance.
Unlike a post-mortem, the project is dissected into several aspects before it has actually started. Ideally a project kick-off has already taken place and the general project plan is available, but in a very early stage.



  • 6 – 12 People
  • Ideally the complete project team (not only project managers or decision makers)


  • Briefing
  • 90-120 Minutes Workshop
  • Debriefing, Follow-up Workshop


  • In-house Workshop for corporate projects
  • Projects between 2 companies / independent parties

This agile method offers key advantages in comparison to other approaches, by allowing real criticism on a factual level and using the natural human tendency to overlook critical aspects. It’s known to reduce overconfidence more than any of the other critiquing approaches.

One criticism that this method sometimes gets is that it may lead to a negative, pessimistic mood in the team. It is a fair concern and depending on the corporate culture can be an issue. However, we believe that, correctly applied and in the right context, the advantages outweigh that it can help identify fears that are otherwise not addressed and prevent overconfidence bias in teams.

While not official part of a pre-mortem, at SEABRAND we have made great experiences by blending this type of workshop with a playful kick-off such as Lego Serious Play ® LSP ®.

Alternatively, or in addition to the pre-mortem method, we also recommend de Bono’s six thinking hats method, i.e. to deeper elaborate on regulatory or structural aspects.

Sample workshop flow:

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Workshop duration varies between 90 minutes and 120 Minutes, depending on the topic or scope of the project.

More information

Would you like to learn more about this method and how it can improve your team performance? I look forward to speaking to you!