Pre-Mortem

This is a key part of the communications plan. Up to this point, we have been thinking about what we can do to communicate well. Now we flip that on it’s head. Assume right now, that the plan you have just made will fail at some point in the future. What caused the failure? What were the steps that led to failure? How could failure be prevented? How might it fail in 3 months? How might it fail in 1 year? 5 years? What different aspects should be changed to prevent each of those failures?

Consider many types of failure as you complete the pre-mortem. Consider the failures that are caused by internal issues, as well as those that are outside of your organization’s control. Might there be failures because of other incoming organizations? What happens if you get too much media attention at the wrong time? Let your glass half empty and your devil’s advocate perspectives lead this portion. You can also refer to your situation analysis and risk summary for this section.

Consider the failures that are caused specifically by some of the actions you have decided upon. Is there something you are planning to do that might contribute to one of the failures you can imagine? This is where you will record how your actions might contribute to your failure.

Now consider how outside forces beyond your control might cause your plan to fail. What happens if the social environment changes? What if one of your key partners is involved in a scandal? What if your organization gets negatively singled out by an influential politician?

Record some possible steps from where you are to failure. Use a combination of internal and external forces that lead to failure.

Now go over each of these scenarios. Put away the devil’s advocate perspective and start looking at it opportunistically. Address the most likely scenarios first and see if there are any easy ways you could adjust your communications plan to avoid the factors that would lead towards failure. Are there ways that you could change how your internal communications are organized to prevent internal errors? Are there any new tactics you could add to your existing strategies to be better protected from negative external influences?

Matthew RempelComment