Post mortem

Why use this guide?

Post mortem

Enter the project post mortem. If used effectively, a project post mortem can be a great learning tool. If planned poorly, it can also turn into an argumentative bashing session.

Having launched the project successfully, we decided to get everyone that had worked on the project to sit down and discuss their thoughts about how the project unfolded so we could improve next time around. It seemed like a great idea in theory, but in actual practice it did not go well.

Post mortem

The meeting lacked structure, team members felt personally attacked, conversation was not moderated well and we came out with few valuable takeaways. Keep in mind that every team has different dynamics and communication styles so you should customize the approach to fit your team and culture.

Have the post mortem as close as possible to the conclusion of each project In the age of social media and ever-increasing workloads, we are constantly bombarded with information. The ability for your team to recall specific details about a project will quickly fade as time goes by.

Everyone wants to give their opinion whether anonymously, publicly or both so give them an opportunity to do so off the bat. The survey should be due back to the moderator with enough time for them to glean specific insights that help guide the meeting.

When done effectively the moderator will be armed with some great fodder to interject at critical points in the meeting. Project managers are the mediator in a post mortem. Ask the right questions and do a lot of listening. What do you think went well on the project?

What was the single most frustrating part of the project? Were the goals of the project clear to you? Were you given the adequate resources to achieve those goals? On a scale of how complete do you think the project planning was before we kicked everything off?

Post mortem

Was the schedule realistic for the deliverables? Check the team mindset at the beginning of the meeting. The moderator usually the project manager should create the agenda and keep conversation constructive and moving — sidelining particular pieces that need further breakout.

Most importantly they should set aside the first few minutes to establish a positive and objective mindset for the team.

The whole point of the post mortem is to walk away with purposeful and realistic steps for improvement, not to evaluate individual performance. This is where the background of the survey can help the moderator adjust focus if things start heading off the rails.

Create the agenda and share it in plain view for everyone to refer to during the meeting One of the best ways to prime your team to speak collectively and positively while sticking to the script is to have an agenda. In the past, I thought the best way to stay organized was to personally hold onto the agenda, moving discussion from one point to the next.

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Post Mortem | FRONTLINE | PBS