Part 2: A Post-Mortem takes Optimism
In my last post, I wrote about post-mortems and how they require courage to perform well. In this post, I will focus on the need for optimism.
The most important aspect of the post-mortem is the final result. If nothing changes as a result of the meeting, it has been a waste of time. In fact if the project didn’t go well I would say that it was a painful waste of time. Why spend the time rehashing the mistakes if you are not going to impose any new processes that would prevent this from happening next time?
With this in mind, you should go into this meeting with a great sense of optimism. Optimism for the future. There is no reason to have a post-mortem if you don’t think things can or will get better.
To be optimistic we have to make sure that we cover all of the right bases. This means going over the successes as well as the failures. Everyone should come out of this meeting feeling good about themselves and having a plan for their areas of improvement. Covering the bases also means making sure that this is not an opportunity to punish the team members. I am talking to management here. No one is going to open up in the meeting and give their honest opinions if they think they will be punished later. Finally, you need to create a plan of action. This is the frosting on the cake. This is what helps everyone to leave the meeting feeling good and looking forward to the next project.
Can this be done? In my next post, I will layout a template for a postmortem meeting that you can use to achieve courageous postmortem meetings that are attended by optimistic (maybe even excited) individuals.
Next up: A PostMortem Template