The premortem – when an organisation has almost come to an important decision but hasn’t formally committed itself, the decision makers gather for a brief session.
They are asked to imagine that it is one year later and that the idea has been a complete disaster.
They then have to write a short history of what happened.
The premortem can prevent many a disaster.
By contrast, a postmortem is always too late.
It’s all about timing.
The animation company Pixar, creators of Finding Nemo and Toy Story, has a proven formula for successful storytelling.
What has become known as the Pixar Pitch involves six sequential sentences:
Once upon a time, A.
Every day, B.
One day, C.
Because of that, D.
Because of that, E.
Until finally, F.
Fool’s gold looks like gold, but it isn’t.
It’s usually some other yellow mineral like pyrite or chalcopyrite.
White space is blank, and when it’s on a strategist’s market map, it makes them think there’s a gap to be exploited.
But they might be wrong, particularly when it comes to innovations.
‘Fool’s gold white space’ is an apparent gap in the market, but in truth it’s a failure masquerading as a viable opportunity.
Many an innovator has been fooled by it.
So next time you come across what appears to be an unoccupied area, ask yourself two questions.
Why is this space unoccupied?
What do they know that we don’t?
Martina Navratilova was described as “the greatest singles, doubles, and mixed doubles player who’s ever lived.”
That was some compliment, coming from former World Number One player Billie Jean King.
This is what Marina had to say about commitment:
“Other players are involved in tennis, but I’m committed. It’s like ham and eggs. The chicken is involved; the pig is committed.”
Big doesn’t necessarily mean good. It could even be bad.
By contrast, there are tremendous advantages to making small changes.
Behavioural science has shown that tiny variations in phraseology can cause huge change.
Small changes are usually less costly, and often free.
Small changes attract less attention from bosses and meddlers, so they are easier to implement.
Small changes are easier to rectify if they don’t achieve their original objective.
So bear in mind that the ‘next big thing’ could be small.
Some people, and businesses generally, love having lots of people rushing around.
It makes them feel productive.
Regardless of what they are doing, all the frenetic activity suggests that much helpful work is being done.
People even say sometimes that they like the buzz.
But it’s a bit like a goalkeeper diving to save a penalty.
He might be just as effective staying exactly where he is.
So movement doesn’t necessarily mean progress.
Don’t confuse the two.