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How to Run a Successful Project Post-Mortem Meeting

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Posted by: Nick Peterson on Fri, Feb 17, 2017

I’ve heard the premise of post-mortem meetings from several sources - the first instance was the book Creativity Inc., and recently I’ve seen HubSpot promoting benefits of this practice as well. Post-mortems help shape the way we progress as a company. While benefits of a post-mortem meeting are great, it’s sometimes difficult to prepare and pull off a successful post-mortem meeting.

Five Ways Post-Mortem Meetings Benefit You

It’s pretty common to hear objections such as meetings of this kind being time-consuming or not valuable (few people enjoy criticism). Five important reasons to practice post-mortem meetings include:

  1. Consolidating what’s been learned.
  2. Teaching others who didn’t participate.
  3. Settling disagreements - issues that happen during the project can be assessed and smoothed over in a respectful manner, so they’re not carried over into future projects.
  4. Schedule time to force reflection - reflection time before post-mortem meetings are just as important as the meetings themselves.
  5. Pay it forward - post-mortem meetings arm people with the right questions moving forward into the next project. (Ex: why are we doing things this way vs. that way?)


Questionnaire & Prep

During the initial project timeline, schedule the post-mortem questionnaire, prep, and meeting. This ensures the practice happens weeks or months in the future or when projects end.

90 percent of the value gained during a post-mortem comes from preparation and reflection on the process. A solid questionnaire will help guide the post-mortem meeting conversation into a constructive discussion. Qualitative, quantitative, and subjective questions help gather possible improvements for the next time this type of project is executed.


Download or Print Our Example Post-Mortem Meeting Questionnaire


Knowledge & Follow-Up

Following up on the post-mortem meeting is an important final step. Outlining the conclusion and actionable steps. Don’t think of the post-mortem as what went good or bad; the results will guide how this project changes in the future and why.

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Nick Peterson

About The Author

Nick Peterson

I'm the get-it-done, keep-it-on-track guy. Project coordination, traffic, and scheduling are my responsibilities with Leighton Interactive. I use my attention to detail, masterful communication skills, and passion for teamwork to propel our client's projects across the finish line. Outside of work, you'll find me rooting for my favorite hockey team and enjoying a cold craft beer with friends.


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