I came across a great article recently about ‘premortems’ which highlighted a great technique to start the project and think about genuine risks to the success of the project and put measures in place upfront to reduce the risks.
Having run many projects, the real challenge is getting the project team to think about genuine risks, and this can be especially beneficial when writing the business case. It is great technique to shift the mindset, when no one wants to raise the negatives but it is essential so you can be prepared for them. Done early, and run by both the business leader and project leader this creates a safe environment to talk about these things. With the right mindset and coming from the right place it enables these concerns to be heard rather than being dismissed as black hat.
I’ve seen it work with customers before and it is effective in getting a better handle on the risks and blockers upfront. My first experience with this technique was actually very early on in my career (called a brainstorming session) to imagine where are we going to be in 10 years.
I thoroughly recommend integrating this technique into your project start up process and spend some time thinking about genuine risks to your project and planning for them upfront.