A post-mortem is the process of analyzing and documenting the outcomes of an event or incident. They can be useful whether things have gone smoothly or otherwise.
The post-mortem requires pre-work and analysis, but the post-mortem meeting is an important part of the life-cycle, helping ensure organizational learning, allowing people to get closure, and can improve morale.
Before the meeting it is important to write up a report. The report should include:
For more background we recommend reading how Etsy approaches post-mortems.
1. Opening round ( 5 mins )
Take a moment to help build a foundation of trust. Answer an icebreaker.
2. Initial reactions ( 5 mins )
Go around the room allowing each member to share high-level thoughts on project/incident. Minimize cross-talk and discussion.
3. Review report ( 15 mins )
Walk through the report. Allow some back and forth, but record dynamic agenda topics for any meaty topics.
4. What went well? ( 10 mins )
Discuss and make note of what went well during the incident.
5. What went poorly? ( 10 mins )
Discuss and make note of what could have gone better.
6. Any other topics?
If time allows, are there any additional topics points that warrant in-person discussion?
7. What should we do next time? ( 10 mins )
If a similar incident was to happen again, what should the team do next time?
8. Closing round ( 5 mins )
Go around the room and have each person share one takeaway or lesson learned.