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Premortem example - developing Mr. or Ms. Right

Updated: May 7, 2023


In our article Mr. or Ms. Right - Developing Future Leaders we suggest a premortem as a great way to build future scenarios that may cause a need to change jobs. This is a critical preparatory step to effectively evaluating your current job. It helps you objectively evaluate your current job and make the best decisions. This does not mean you will change your job, but it provides confidence the best job decision was made. We discuss how to use our job evaluation decision solution to make use of your premortem.


Next, is an example of a premortem to support the article. We also provide context for the framework presented in the article.


Liam - Climber but loves life outside of work


Liam is in his early thirties. He has been growing his career and worked for a few companies since graduating from a great state college. He married about 2 years ago and he and his wife are discussing children. Liam anticipates needing to make a change to his "work first" mentality to accommodate a family with young children. This is harder than it looks! While he knows in his heart he needs to change his work-first mentality, he gets so much positive feedback from his co-workers and employer about being "Mr. Fixit." He likes being the "go-to guy" when important stuff needs to get done. His current boss, Mia, previously provided Liam with positive performance reviews and related feedback. His premortem narrative is a simple list of bullet points about a potential change:


Premortem narrative: Liam becomes a family man

  • I want to spend time with my newborn

  • I want to support my wife and her career

  • I want to be a good Dad

  • I want an employer that has a "real" way to support work-life balance

  • I still want to get work value out of being 'super competent' but need to change expectations about my hours

  • I may need to change roles to make an official break with the old me

  • I like my boss and workmates. I do not want to leave them hanging!


Liam starts with his criteria from his last job change. He uses the Definitive Choice app to process his premortem and job criteria. Based on his past evaluation, "Advancement Opportunity" is at the top of the list. (Framework item #1) Based on this 'Liam becomes a family man' premortem narrative, Liam creates a new alternative for his current job. He reevaluates his current job criteria and realizes:

  • His "Advancement Opportunities" criteria weight has dropped.

  • His "Work-life Balance" has increased in weight. (Framework item #2)

He applies his new 'Liam becomes a family man' premortem model and realizes this anticipated future job scenario causes his overall benefit to drop from 80% current benefit to 58% anticipated benefit. This means his current job benefit is net positive but has dropped.


At Liam's next review, he uses the app reports to share with his boss Mia both his changing criteria as well as the potential for a drop in overall job benefits. (Framework item #3) Liam has confidence in the decision science and the decision process the app provides. Liam acknowledges he and his wife have not yet changed into family mode, but he anticipates they will soon.


Liam's boss is awesome. Mia lets Liam know she appreciates his honesty and completely respects his need to change gears to be more of a family man. In fact, the company has "family focus" as one of its key mission statements. Liam's boss said that since they have a good 6 months before any big change needs to be made, she can work with other firm leaders to give Liam rotation access to jobs better fitting his criteria. (Framework item #4) Liam's boss REALLY appreciates the lead time to help work on identifying an environment suitable for Liam's success. Mia also provides Liam with the agency to pursue other roles.


Liam feels better about his upcoming family-focus change and his company's willingness to support him. Liam appreciates his boss' response and feels validated by his self-advocacy. He decides to stay in the "committed-to-the-current-job" mode in the near term, but will also look for more appropriate rotations at his current company. (Framework item #5) Liam appreciates the aligned relationship he has with his boss. Liam is realistic. He knows his boss can only do so much. But he feels good she is 'in his corner' and will do what she can!



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