Inverse thinking: "kill the company" to save it.


James Clear shares the skill of inversion - the crucial thinking skill that nobody ever taught you here:

“One of my favorite applications of inversion is known as a Failure Premortem. It is like a Premeditation of Evils for the modern day company. It works like this: Imagine the most important goal or project you are working on right now. Now fast forward six months and assume the project or goal has failed. Tell the story of how it happened. What went wrong? What mistakes did you make? How did it fail? This strategy is sometimes called the “kill the company” exercise in organizations because the goal is to spell out the exact ways the company could fail. Just like a Premeditation of Evils, the idea is to identify challenges and points of failure so you can develop a plan to prevent them ahead of time. This way of thinking, in which you consider the opposite of what you want, is known as inversion. When I first learned of it, I didn't realize how powerful it could be. As I have studied it more, I have begun to realize that inversion is a rare and crucial skill that nearly all great thinkers use to their advantage."

What if we learned to do this as part of our quarterly reviews?

What it could produce:

  1. A heightened awareness of reality - it may not necessarily be about the outcomes themselves but how close or distant you are from failure at any given time

  2. The ability for your executive team to experience this kind of strategic thinking, and drive outcomes from it

  3. To create and maintain a culture of humility yet boldness from the ability to simulate going to the hardest place possible: failure and the return from it.

This not only applies to your business strategy, but also your personal life strategy - what if you scheduled quarterly reviews to go to those tough places - “failure” scenarios in your family - and actively plan against them. The depth of your understanding and culture of intention that can be fostered in your family life can yield amazing results from this practice.

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