As female leaders, we understand that success and inclusivity do not have to be mutually exclusive. But too often, female voices go unheard in the workplace when they have the potential to be a team’s key to success.
These experiences go beyond the anecdotal. In fact, a study conducted at Yale recorded clear discrepancies between the perception of male and female executives at workplace meetings. The study found that when male executives spoke more often in meetings, they were given high competent ratings. Contrastingly, when female executives spoke more often, they were perceived to be less competent.
Such findings are not uncommon. A 2019 survey of 329 companies and over 68,000 employees found that 50% of surveyed women reported having been interrupted or spoken over in meetings. On top of this, over a third of women surveyed experienced others taking credit for their ideas.
The upside is there are strategies to achieve success and amplify female voices in the workplace. One way is to start with the Pre-Mortem methodology.
What is the Pre-Mortem Methodology?
Designed by cognitive psychologist Gary Klein over 20 years ago and used since then by many of the world’s most successful companies, the Pre-Mortem Methodology has the power to revolutionize your business while giving everyone a seat at the table.
“What will cause XYZ to fail?"
Conducting a pre-mortem is relatively simple. First, participants individually answer the prompt “What will cause XYZ to fail?” with as many responses as possible. Next, as a group, each entry is categorized and scored on a scale of 1-10 based on likelihood and impact. These responses are multiplied, creating a ranked list of priorities. As a final step, priorities can then be assigned to participants, creating accountability and mitigating risk.
A highlight of this methodology is in its inclusivity. By nature, every member of a team has the power to shape a pre-mortem session by contributing priorities to focus on and being assigned responsibilities to oversee. On top of this, efficiency is not sacrificed in this process: a 1 hour meeting with a pre-mortem on the agenda can save you a year of surprises, assumptions and misalignment – all things that kill culture and potential for success.
When should you conduct a pre-mortem?
Whether you are about to embark on an important initiative, are experiencing uncertainty or battling a fear of failure, it’s never a bad time to conduct a pre-mortem.
For example, key triggers for a pre-mortem session include a change in strategy, launching a new product or service, experiencing low trust in leadership or evolving your existing business.
You can even conduct a pre-mortem when tackling larger internal culture issues within an organization, such as battling double standards or bettering team communication.
Overall, the Pre-Mortem Methodology is a tool to help you beat failure.
Humans don’t like talking about failure. It's a taboo subject and most people would prefer to move on as fast as possible, but the value of the pre-mortem can drastically alter the way we view personal and professional failure for the better, all while giving the underrepresented a seat at the table. For fellow female leaders, here are 5 more reasons to go pre-mortem:
1. Build Trust
By involving more stakeholders in the planning process, including the executionary team an open environment is established where concerns can be voiced early on. While not every concern can be prioritized, a pre-mortem ensures the entire team is thinking about potential failure, and assures that everyone is aware of limitations and constraints. In a remote work world, an insurance policy for clarity is invaluable. It also allows for the solutions you install to be in line with how people are feeling and what they really need.
2. Instant Strategy
The best part of the pre-mortem methodology is that participants don’t need to circle back or wait for results. The simple prompt of “What Would Cause our Initiative to Fail?” turns collaborator inputs into real time prioritizations to help teams better prepare for the future. Confidence and certainty grows when team members are clear about their role and expectations.
3. Cultivate a Failure Mindset
More than anything, the pre-mortem process is a perspective shift. It ultimately increases the opportunity for creativity by presenting a problem-set grounded in reality rather than encouraging blue sky thinking that won’t help address real threats. When fears are openly discussed and tackled head-on, success is no longer an abstract concept but a possibility.
4. Save Time and Money
The team at McKinsey calls it being “smart at the start.” No matter the industry, we all operate under constraints, from lack of resources to limited time. By getting incredibly sharp on what pitfalls lay ahead in the early stages of planning, we are better positioned to reallocate budgets to where they need to go and get a realistic handle on potential timelines.
5. Install Real Value
This process shows you the big things that will have the most impact. It pulls collective focus so people aren’t wasting their time on the wrong or easy tasks. Through this prioritization you can actually start to measure value, impact and velocity, creating a way to show meaningful progress. And when you look at employees, their performance is less about whether they did their job, and more around what failures they worked to prevent.
If preventing failure is on your radar, try out Priio® today. Drawing on the Pre-Mortem Methodology, Priio is the world’s first platform designed to help teams Beat Failure™. Whether you are tackling internal culture issues within your organization, fostering trust among clients or just needing some help focusing on the week ahead, Priio delivers the results you need while building an instant strategy and cultivating individual accountability along the way.
Join the world’s greatest companies in leading with clarity: use code 1M04FREE for a 30 day free trial of Priio.
about the contributors
Nina Mueller is the Global Program Director of Butchershop Europe, with over 10 years of experience as an organizational leader in the creative agency space. Nina is also the co-founder of Priio, the world’s first app designed to help companies Beat Failure™.
Butchershop is a brand experience agency, helping leaders turn big ideas into brands people love through brand, organizational, and experience design.
Priio will deliver fast results ranked in in order of what you and your team need to prioritize in order to gain maximum clarity and ultimately succeed. It’s your best ROI yet.