An Anticipatory Organization® Can Preemptively Dissect Problems

Daniel Burrus
5 min readSep 30, 2021

As dark and dreary a picture as the term “post-mortem” may paint in your mind, as it is a term frequently used in the medical industry to determine the cause of death, there is an integral competency in business it pertains to: a finished project or a new product, and the customer response to it.

Unfortunately, the original “cause of death” concept that the term “post-mortem” traditionally refers to also mirrors an occurrence in the life cycle of many products, services, or whole companies in business.

When a catastrophic breakdown of a process, product, service, or company itself occurs, c-suite executives and business leaders alike convene to determine the cause of death, which is generally a game of finger-pointing and placing blame upon external factors that were seemingly unavoidable that brought whatever to its demise.

Pre-Mortems and a Hard Trend Methodology

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Now, if a post-mortem establishes what caused the end of something, I’m sure you’re wondering if there is such a thing as a “pre-mortem” and if so, what it means.

While it’s not frequently possible to utilize the term “pre-mortem” in medicine, a pre-mortem in business is possible, extremely useful, and an essential concept involved in becoming an Anticipatory Organization®.

Pre-mortems are predictive in nature, but, just like post-mortems, involve a careful analysis that, instead of determining what happened, allows a business leader to identify predictable problems and foreseeable barriers that may occur. A pre-mortem is essentially an exercise in conducting my Hard Trend Methodology, where an organization or team within the organization identifies Hard Trend future certainties that they can leverage to pre-solve problems customers have long before they take place.

When establishing a pre-mortem, business leaders should start by asking themselves some straightforward questions, including:

  • What problems can you expect in implementation and execution?
Daniel Burrus

#1 Bestselling Author, Global Futurist, Innovation Expert and Keynote Speaker. One of the World’s Leading Futurists on Global Trends and Innovation.