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Mod. 2.2 - Failure Modes Activity

What is FMEA?

Failure Modes Effects Analysis (FMEA) is a tool for identifying and categorizing forms of failure to help you focus on what is most important. The tool was first developed by the US Army in the 1940s and embraced by the systems engineering and quality engineering sectors. In the past twenty years, it has also been used in healthcare and other nonprofit sectors. I first learned about FMEA from the social impact activist Becky Margiotta. Becky is the author of Impact with Integrity, the architect of the 100,000 Homes campaign to end chronic homelessness in the US, and an Army veteran.


FMEA is rooted in identifying three things:

  • What are the failure modes - how could this project fail?

  • For each failure mode, how likely is it to happen? How severe an effect would it have?

  • For the failure modes that are most likely and most severe, what are some possible mitigation strategies?

Applying FMEA to your project

Use the FMEA worksheet to identify potential failure modes for your project.

  • In the first column, write down any failure modes you are worried about, no matter how small, irrational, etc. You can add more rows to the table as needed.

  • Use the second column to assign each mode a " likeliness score" from 1-10, where 1 is least likely to happen and 10 is most likely to happen.

  • Use the third column to assign each mode a "severity score" from 1-10, where 1 is least severe and 10 is most severe.

  • In the fourth column, multiply the scores from column 2 and 3 to assign a total score to each failure mode.

  • Use the fifth column to jot down any notes on how you might preemptively mitigate the potential of the highest-scoring mode(s).

When you are done, please upload a link or image of your completed worksheet in the comments below. If you encountered any surprises when doing this activity - discovering a failure mode you hadn't anticipated, or perhaps a realization that a specific mode was more or less important than you'd imagined - please share a couple sentences reflecting on the exercise.

 

FMEA Worksheet


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