A post-mortem allows a team to look back at a completed project (or take stock during a mi-point or progress review) and draw lessons together, reinforce collaboration, and enrich future endeavours. Too often, post-mortem meetings focus on dissatisfactions, and can almost turn into witch hunts. Some people can monopolize the conversation, and while the opinions they express may seem to be shared by the whole team, this is not necessarily the case. Furthermore, despite good intentions, time runs short and the opportunity to find sustainable solutions is lost.
Here’s a four-step meeting sequence to help you focus both on what went well (so that this can be repeated in the future) and on the pitfalls to avoid, as well as give everyone the opportunity to express themselves. By the end of the meeting, each participant will also have committed to tangible and sustainable actions for future projects.
- Once the project is completed. In fact, the post-mortem should be seen as an integral part of the project. Why not reap the maximum benefits from all the efforts put in it, learn as a team and highlight achievements?
- During the project, when things aren’t progressing as expected or when risks are high. It can be helpful to look back on certain key steps or deliverables, review collaboration modes, and realign for the work ahead.
- Create a safe space where people can express themselves authentically, without fear of judgment.
- Explain that the purpose isn’t group therapy, but improvement as a team. The point is to share facts and achievements, not accusations.
- Let participants express their opinion, then start the conversation.
- Commit, as a team, to finding solutions while keeping a global and forward-looking perspective.
- There are several ways to lead the post-mortem meeting:
- You can ask participants to fill out the appreciation form before the meeting, either on their own or in teams of two.
- You can choose to systematically discuss each point of the appreciation form, or to prioritize some.
- This post-mortem can also be performed in a natural team, after a period of intense work. We can then ask: What are we doing well in our team? What do we want to do differently?
- In a nutshell, adapt this tool to your needs, get to work, and learn as a team!