You know what a postmortem is? Not that kind. I mean a project postmortem.
The project’s over. You review it. What worked? What didn’t work? What can we learn? What do we do next time?
A premortem is like that, but pre, not post. You have a plan. You haven’t started the project yet. You get the team together. You look at the plan. You assume that it failed.
How did it fail? Sometimes the answer is obvious. There’s a giant hole in the plan. Once you assume failure rather than success the answer leaps out at you.
Of course, this plan will fail!
So you fix it.
And you repeat the process.
And finally when you ask “How did we fail?” everyone looks at everyone else.
“Fucked if I know.”
“Maybe the sun went nova?”
“Did the aliens arrive?”
Maybe it will fail, but not for an obvious reason.
Then you’ve got a plan that’s at least pretty good.
You shouldn’t be surprised if your plan fails. Most plans fail.
But if it fails, you should be surprised at how it failed.
Otherwise, you had a stupid plan.
You should always do premortems at the start.
You should do them at other times to avoid plan rot.
Put periodic premortems in the plan.
I didn’t invent this. Here’s some links for y’all:
Pre-mortem - Wikipedia
Performing a Project Premortem-Harvard Business Review
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