Pre-mortems and Post-mortems

  • A 'Pre-mortem' is a way of considering in advance the potential problems which may occur in a project or plan at a time when options for change are still open. 

  • Pre-mortems tap into the human brain’s preference for the concrete rather than the abstract and by making the outcome, eg failure, a certainty, tries to by-pass the difficulties we have in generating explanations for uncertain outcomes rather than sure ones - in particular the not-so-obvious or controversial possibilities.

  • It seems to us that this is an important way of exploring the potential downsides and benefits of innovation - entire technologies (nanotechnologies, say), particular applications (AI in social media?) or individual products (robots for the care of the elderly?)

  • We have been exploring this concept in a number of areas and finding it a very fruitful and engaging form of foresight. Again a multi-stakeholder approach is essential to explore the many potential options, it's often hard for those involved in an area or project to see what might go wrong as they are naturally so invested in the idea.

  • We also explore post-mortems, you can't learn the lessons of the past without picking apart what went wrong and what you could do differently next time. 

  • Check out our flyer below which gives some more detail

Pre-mortems, Multi-stakeholder, Risk

Pre-mortems: Lessons from hindsight - beforehand

An engaging and effective approach to exploring potential risks and involving stakeholders

Multi-stakeholder, Post-mortems

Food Irradiation and Responsible Innovation

Pilot  of a 'Post-mortem' style mutli-stakeholder project assessing social and safety risks in a controversial technology

Risk, Pre-mortems

Advanced materials risk-we are asking wrong questions

Exploring a new approach to risk and advance materials, through a form of 'pre-mortem'.

A 'critical friend' and coach

  • We act as a 'critical friend' to senior managers and organisations to help them understand outside perspectives and develop more socially responsive approaches to innovation.

  • This can take the form of coaching and mentoring individuals or facilitating internal initiatives which help multi-disciplinary teams explore how the issues raised by the new expectations will affect their approach.

  • It also includes serving in an advisory capacity on boards and committees.

Policy, Public

World Economic Forum Future Council on Human Rights

Hilary has been invited to join the World Economic Forum Global Futures Council on Human Rights. She was previously on the Global Agenda Council on Nanotechnology.

Critical friend, Governance

Synthetic Biology Governance Sub Group

Hilary sits on the UK Synthetic Biology Governance Sub Group

Critical friend, Universities

RRI and the University of Sheffield


Working with the senior teams at the University and with researchers in key centres to embed Responsible Research and Innovation.

Multi-stakeholder research & dialogue

  • Most of our work involves multi-stakeholder components of one form or another.  The involvement of Civil Society Groups and the public seems to be an area which is particularly valued.  

  • This involves multi-stakeholder research and consultation, stakeholder mapping and analysis, relationship building and partnership development.

  • In addition, we contribute to initiatives involving the general public, either as a stakeholder or in an advisory capacity.

Policy, Public

Engaging the public in nanotech

The website pilot we developed called was one of a number of innovative UK initiatives in nanotech.


Building public trust in innovation...

What does the public expect of technology innovation?  Our analysis of 22 dialogues and reports shows what we really think.

Multi-stakeholder, Universities

Robotics, AI & Responsible Innovation

We have been doing some innovative work on Responsible Innovation and Robotics with the teams at Sheffield Robotics. 

Speaking and writing

  • We use our enthusiasm, experience and communications skills to build the case for Responsible Innovation through our speaking engagements and writing.  

  • We deliver keynote presentations, facilitate multi-stakeholder panels and events and deliver our own events to further understanding of Responsible Innovation to stimulate the interest of all stakeholders.

  • In addition through blogging, YouTube presentations and media and social media contributions we promote the concepts and practise of Responsible Innovation to all interested parties.

Critical friend, Universities

Responsible Research and Innovation in H2020

Hilary & Daan have been involved in a number of academic RRI initiatives under Horizon2020 with varying degrees of frustration and success!  

Universities, Stakeholder eng

Outreach to Inclusion - evolution or revolution?

Honoured to be asked to speak to Science Communicators and academic researchers in gothenburg, by the Swedish Research Council 



Business, Social Purpose

Design for Innovation - speech at EBN Congress


Speaking on RRI at an exciting meeting of European entrepreneurs, innovators and catalysts.