Conducting Pre-Mortem Analysis

Gary Klein
Paul Johnson
Paul Sonkin

Decision Making

Behavioral Finance

Thought Leader

Episode: 109
September 22, 2019

Episode Description:

Gary Klein is a noted cognitive psychologist with an innate ability to see what others don’t. Over his 40-year career in the field, he’s pioneered the field of naturalistic decision making, the Pre-Mortem method of risk assessment, and the ShadowBox training approach. Gary is the author of five books and editor of three more, and most recently, founded Shadow Box, LLC in 2005 to train decision makers on his technique. You can learn all about Gary at gary-klein.com.

Paul and Paul, you may recall, were guests on the show discussing their book that I greatly enjoyed, Pitch the Perfect Investment. Both are former investors and professors of finance.

Together Gary, Paul and Paul co-authored a paper entitled Rendering a Powerful Tool Flaccid: The Misuse of Premortems on Wall Street. The paper is a detailed look at how properly conduct Pre-Mortem analysis.

Our conversation covers Gary’s background studying expertise with fighter pilots, tools to improve decision-making, including the Shadow Box technique, Cognitive After-Action Reviews, and Pre-Mortems. We then do a deep dive on Pre-Mortem analysis, including its history in the Air Force, what it is, how it works, when it falls short, and the benefits of reducing overconfidence, time efficiency, increasing candor, making groups smarter. We discuss views on other risk mitigation techniques as well, including devil’s advocates, red teams, risk assessment, and critiques.

I found the conversation an incredible door opener to one of the most effective and time-efficient sources of value in improving investment decision-making processes. I’m privileged and excited to share this conversation with you.

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