Pre-mortem is better than post-mortem

Go back

Why wait until your project is a complete disaster before fixing it?

Why wait until your digital product or project is a dead duck?  Often in projects, learnings happen too late in the process and nothing can be done to impact the project outcomes. The pre-mortem tool enables team members to gather wisdom and make changes before it's too late. This pre-mortem exercise is great before you've even started to build your new service, but is also really useful once early-stage build is underway - perhaps when doubts are beginning to appear at early-level MVP (Minimum Viable Product) stage.

Let's look at a process called pre-mortem that helps save lives. The life of your project or digital service that is.

Projects fail at an alarming rate. One reason is that too many people are reluctant to speak up about their reservations during the early / planning phase. All too often services or products can be kicked into different stages of production - and then on to market launch - without lifting some of the elephants in the room. This process makes it safe for knowledgeable people to speak up. People who are worried about the projects weaknesses can speak up - if this happens you can improve a project’s chances of success.

Assemble the project team, and give each member a copy of our Pre-mortem Canvas. Invite everyone to imagine it is two years in the future. Your current project, activity, or initiative has utterly failed. It's been a complete disaster.

Step 1:

Spend a few minutes writing things down - answer the questions in the canvas, then discuss answers with the larger group.

Step 2:

List all the causes of this apocalyptic failure you have outlined. Use post-it notes on the canvas if you prefer.

Step 3:

Update the goals and risks. Compare your failure description with your teams current (success) plans. Would the existing goals prevent your apocalyptic failure scenario? Adjust your goal statements as necessary.

Step 4:

What are the most likely causes of failures. Discuss which causes are avoidable, and who on the team is taking responsibility to prevent them occurring.


Useful tools, frameworks or further reading.

Get 1 business hack in your inbox every week
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
By signing up you agree to our Terms & Conditions