A to Z of
Creativity Techniques
Bug Listing
Bunches of Bananas

The bullet proofing technique aims to identify the areas in which your plan might be especially vulnerable:

  • What may possibly go wrong?
  • What are some of the difficulties that could occur?
  • What’s the worst imaginable thing that could occur?

There are some similarities with Potential Problem Analysis(PPA)(Kepner and Tregoe), Negative Brainstorming (Isaksen and Treffinger, 1985) who suggest that ‘What might happen if…?’ is a useful question to use for looking at potential challenges.

  • Brainstorm around enquiries such as: ‘What might happen if…?’ to identify the areas in your plan of action that could potentially cause problems and which have not yet been identified.
  • All the areas identified should be placed on a table such as the one below, showing how likely the event is to occur and if it did occur, how serious it would be for your plan.
  • Major problems that are very likely to happen. If there are significant numbers, you may first need to priorities them so that you can focus your effort on the most important.
  • Use any suitable problem-solving method to work out ways to dealing with them.
How likely is it to occur
Unlikely Very likely

If it did occur,
it would be:

Major Problem Most Serious
Minor Problem Least serious

Although this type of exercise is necessary, it can have the effect of lower your spirits, looking on the ‘black side’. Should this be the case and you feel in the need for some cheering up try using the same technique in reverse:

  • What could go well?
  • What pleasant surprises might it deliver?
  • What is the best thing that could happen?

Obviously these uplifting enquiries should be reasonably plausible – a collection of good things that really might happen!