The best way to die.

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Do you think the braintrust behind the NBC show, The Biggest Loser, discussed the worst possible outcomes from their show?



Contestant dies at The Ranch,” surely topped the list.

Contestant develops an eating disorder,” should have made the Top 5, right?



Did the Denver Broncos map out the worst possible way to start their opening drive in the Super Bowl?



Deafening Seahawks fans drown out Peyton Manning’s inevitable signal changes at the line of scrimmage, including his now (in)famous Oma-haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw!, and we snap the ball over his head for a safety.”


That was probably in the Top 25.

Did the Russian Putinistas chat up the most obvious ways to botch their biggest opportunity in the spotlight since Rocky IV?




Blatant discrimination during an event designed to bring the world together,” is in the Top 10.


Sniper Sochi stray dogs,” barely made the Top 100.

(There are many issues in Sochi.)



It’s natural to reflect on how and why things went wrong… after they go wrong.


We want to learn from our mistakes.

And often, we want to assign blame.



This is known as a Postmortem Analysis.

Things go bad and then we hold a meeting to discuss the badness.

Post the mortem.

After the death.



Much less frequently do we perform a Premortem Analysis.

In a Premortem, we consider the potential ways things will go horribly wrong before the event.

Then we work backwards to mitigate those risks.



On the jobsite, every team should engage in a Premortem prior to any work being done. One simple Premortem question is this:


How will you die today?


Tom: I’m going in a confined space this afternoon. I’ve done it a million times, so I’ll fly solo on this mission…


Bob: I’m gonna use an A-frame ladder like it’s an Extension ladder and really stretch to do some electrical work…


Cliff: I work in Denver, so I’ll be legally high for much of the day…


Jorge: Lo siento… no entiendo la pregunta. ¿Hablas español?  



Postmortem Analyses demand attention because leaders demand answers following failure.

Premortem Analyses simply eat up valuable time we can spend working, right?



Everyone knows the risks, right?

Everyone knows the worst-case scenarios, right?



Maybe not.


A quick discussion identifying the most obvious risks is always worth the time.

Accidents happen.


I don’t know if Rachel Frederickson, winner of the The Biggest Loser, has an eating disorder, but I hope the show had a plan for this scenario and is helping her return to “normal” life.


I don’t know if Peyton Manning considered how a raucous crowd could stifle his center and his Oma-haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw!, but I imagine he did.


I don’t know if shooting stray dogs is frowned upon in Russia, but the locals certainly learned Olympic viewers care about Fido as much as, if not more than, Freestyle Skiing.



Not all accidents can be foreseen.

But identifying – and eliminating – only a fraction of them is worth your time.



Lead a Premortem today.

It’s the best way to die.




Bradley Hartmann is founder and El Presidente at Red Angle (, a training and consulting firm bridging the English-Spanish language gap in the construction industry.    

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Categories: Construction Spanish, Jobsite Leadership

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