Pre-mortem meeting structure

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In the book “The Nature of Software Development,” Ron mentioned a procedure that the team can perform called pre-mortem. The essence of it is, that team before working on the next steps int eh feature delivering process or even before starting working on the feature gather together, and through facilitated experience is trying to identify what problems can slow down or stop efficient development.

When I was tech lead of the part of the e-commerce functionality at Webflow, I was doing with my team similar exercise. Today I want to share with you the structure of it that I created, and my teammates helped me to improve over time.

Meeting idea

Speaking points:

  • What can be done or not done in next week that can help us move faster?
  • What can be done or not done next week that can help us be grateful to ourselves in the future?
  • What might make us why we can not be in time for our key result date?
  • What can someone else do or stop doing in the team to make us more productive? (remember to be extraordinary kind when bringing out this point)
  • What from what was done in the previous week should be done differently in the future?
  • What bottlenecks we currently have in the project?
  • What process currently is the slowest one, but can be improved/changed?

Feel free to bring up any other related to project question that can be formed in structure “short explanation + propose simple action.”

Before meeting:

Pick up one of the points of speaking were you have something worth sharing, and from what team will benefit the most. Form it in the format of short explanation + simple action.

For example:

Short explanation – I want to share an idea of how we can move faster. I have seen that component X is currently done as not reusable one, and we will be using it at least 5 times in different variations.

Simple action – I want to dedicate 2 days of my next working week to make this component reusable one. I will create an issue for this task and will add it to the board and the milestone.

Meetings structure:

First 20 min – Sharing:

Everyone, in turn, shares their point of view in the format “a short explanation of the speaking point” + “proposes simple action.”

Last 5 min – Celebration:

Feel free without the turn to bring up any moments/PRs/changes/ behavior that has happened in last week, that are worth to be shared and celebrate.

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Olena Sovyn
Staff Software Engineer (London, UK). I ❤ React, Redux, lodash, React Storybook, and functional programming overall. Always open to learning something new

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