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How to run a post mortem meeting

Conduct a post-mortem meeting by assessing project results against objectives, discussing successes and failures, analyzing the reasons behind the outcomes, and proposing improvements for future projects.

A post mortem meeting is a structured review or evaluation session that takes place after the completion of a project, event, or activity to analyze its successes and failures, identify lessons learned, and determine areas for improvement in future endeavors. It provides an opportunity for the team to openly discuss and reflect on their performance, identify any issues or challenges encountered, and develop strategies for continuous improvement. The purpose of the post mortem meeting is to gather valuable insights, capture knowledge, and make informed decisions moving forward.

What is the purpose of a post mortem meeting?

Running a post-mortem meeting as a leader serves the purpose of assessing the success and shortcomings of a project or task, facilitating open and honest discussions among team members, identifying areas for improvement, and implementing lessons learned for future projects. It promotes a culture of accountability, learning, and continuous improvement within the team or organization.

How to run a post mortem meeting: Step-By-Step


Step 1: Preparation

In addition to gathering all project documents, correspondence, and metrics, it is important to identify the individuals who played a significant role in the project’s execution and outcomes.

Our application, ZipDo, simplifies the process of preparing for team meetings. Meeting leads can quickly retrieve all relevant information from past sessions, including agendas and notes, stored in one place. This facilitates a smoother preparation process and guarantees no key points are missed.

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Step 2: Schedule

When determining the timetable for the meeting, it is important to allocate one to two hours in order to prevent fatigue and ensure sufficient time to cover all relevant points in a comprehensive manner.

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Step 3: Distribute Agenda

Clearly communicate meeting goals and specific areas to be covered, allowing attendees to prepare comments or feedback in advance.

ZipDo, our software, merges your calendar meetings into a single, collaborative environment. Within this environment, teams can craft a shared meeting agenda, promoting contributions from everyone. This strategy leads to superior meeting preparedness, boosting productivity and making the preparation and follow-up phases more straightforward.

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Step 4: Meeting Opening

The project manager should open the meeting by reviewing the agenda and objectives, highlighting the value of constructive criticism towards achieving project success.

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Step 5: Project Overview

Review the project’s overall timeline, objectives, and specific goals, assessing the extent to which they were accomplished based on predetermined criteria, aiming to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the project’s progress and outcomes.

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Step 6: Discuss Successes

Invite team members to reflect on their successes, highlighting effective processes, strategies, and tools that contributed to positive outcomes. It fosters a collaborative environment, encourages knowledge sharing, and enables the replication of success in future endeavors.

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Step 7: Evaluate Failures or Problems

The explanation needs to be extended to discuss the shortcomings, challenges, and failures experienced in certain tasks or processes, highlighting the reasons behind their lack of success.

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Step 8: Constructive Feedback

Allow team members to openly share their feedback on processes and tasks, listen attentively to their perspectives, and diligently document each point raised to foster a culture of collaboration and continuous improvement.

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Step 9: Lessons Learned

In conclusion, it is crucial to discuss and consolidate the main lessons learned from the project. By doing so, we can identify valuable insights and determine ways to implement those ideas effectively in future projects, ensuring continuous improvement and success.

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Step 10: Action Plan

Based on feedback and discussion, create an action plan detailing strategies for handling similar situations in the future. Specify what actions to avoid and what practices to continue, improving future outcomes.

Questions to ask as the leader of the meeting

1. What were our objectives for this project/assignment/meeting? (To understand the intended outcomes and gauge success or failure based on initial objectives)

2. What were the key challenges we faced during this process? (To identify potential roadblocks and areas for improvement in future projects)

3. What were the key decisions made during the project/assignment/meeting? (To analyze the effectiveness of decisions and their impact on the final outcome)

4. What worked well and should be repeated in future projects? (To reinforce positive practices and strategies for success)

5. What did not work well and should be avoided in future projects? (To identify pitfalls and prevent similar mistakes in the future)

6. Were there any communication breakdowns or misunderstandings within the team? (To address potential communication gaps that may have hindered progress or collaboration)

7. Were there any limitations or constraints that affected the outcome? (To recognize external factors that may have impacted project success or failure)

8. Did we adequately allocate resources (time, budget, manpower, etc.) to complete the project/assignment? (To assess resource management and identify potential areas of improvement)

9. Did our team possess the necessary skills and expertise to accomplish the project/assignment? (To evaluate the need for additional training, skill development, or recruitment)

10. Were there any missed opportunities that could have resulted in a more successful outcome? (To identify areas where the team could have capitalized on opportunities for improvement or growth)

11. How well did we adhere to the planned timeline/milestones? (To analyze the effectiveness of time management and identify any delays or bottlenecks)

12. Overall, how satisfied are we with the final outcome? (To measure satisfaction levels and assess if the project/assignment met expectations)

13. What lessons have we learned from this experience that can be applied to future projects? (To capture valuable insights and improve decision-making in subsequent endeavors)

14. How can we improve our collaboration and teamwork for future projects? (To identify opportunities for enhancing synergy and fostering a more productive working environment)

15. What are the action points and next steps based on our findings from this post-mortem meeting? (To outline a clear plan of action moving forward)

As a leader, preparing a post-mortem meeting agenda requires careful planning. Start by clearly defining the goals and objectives of the meeting. Determine the key topics that need to be discussed and prioritize them accordingly. Allocate sufficient time for each topic, allowing for open and honest discussions. Include time for team input and feedback, as well as action planning to address any identified issues. Finally, share the agenda with all participants in advance to ensure everyone is prepared and can contribute effectively.

How To Prepare For A Post Mortem Meeting
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During a post-mortem meeting, it is crucial to discuss various topics to thoroughly assess the project or event. These topics may include identifying successes and failures, analyzing project management, examining team collaboration, evaluating budget and resources, reviewing communication processes, and identifying areas for improvement. By covering these aspects, the team can gain valuable insights and make informed decisions for future projects.

See Our Post Mortem Meeting Template
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Software tools to facilitate a post mortem meeting

Software is essential for leaders conducting post-mortem meetings. It organizes all relevant data, captures team feedback, and provides clear visibility into project outcomes. With its ability to track key metrics and identify areas of improvement, software streamlines the entire process and enables leaders to make data-driven decisions for future success.

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Running an effective post-mortem meeting is crucial for any organization looking to learn from their mistakes and improve their future performance. By following a structured approach and implementing the key steps discussed in this blog post, you can ensure that your post-mortem meetings yield valuable insights and actionable recommendations.

Remember, the objective of a post-mortem meeting is not to assign blame or dwell on past failures, but rather to foster a culture of continuous improvement. Encourage open and honest dialogue, create a safe space for team members to share their perspectives, and emphasize the importance of learning from mistakes.

By taking the time to reflect on what went wrong and identifying opportunities for improvement, you can turn setbacks into valuable learning experiences. Post-mortem meetings provide a platform for teams to identify patterns, streamline processes, and make informed decisions that will ultimately drive success in the future.

So, don’t overlook the significance of holding post-mortem meetings within your organization. Embrace them as a valuable tool for growth, innovation, and ongoing improvement. Implement the strategies mentioned in this blog post and watch your team and organization thrive as you learn from your mistakes and continuously evolve.

Jannik Lindner

I'm Jannik and I write on MeetingFever about the experiences from my career as a founder and team lead.

If you have any questions, please contact me via LinkedIn.

Popular Questions

What is a post-mortem meeting?

A post-mortem meeting or a project post-mortem is a gathering or discussion that takes place after the completion of a project or event. This is to assess what happened during the project, what worked well, what didn’t, and what can be improved in the future.

When should a post-mortem meeting be conducted?

Ideally, a post-mortem meeting should be conducted as soon as a project or event is completed while the details are still fresh in everyone’s minds. It can be scheduled about 1 to 2 weeks after the completion of the project.

Who should be present at a post-mortem meeting?

The individuals or teams who were directly involved in the project or event should be present at a post-mortem meeting. This includes project managers, team leaders, and team members. It may also include stakeholders or clients, as appropriate.

What is the main purpose of a post-mortem meeting?

The main purpose of a post-mortem is to identify and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of a completed project. The goal is to understand what went well, what didn’t, and how things can be improved for future projects.

How is a post-mortem meeting conducted?

A post-mortem meeting typically begins with a summary of the project or event, followed by a review of the initial goals and objectives. Then, the team discusses what went well and what could be improved, using specific examples and data where possible. Lastly, action items for improvement are identified and assigned. It is important that the meeting is conducted in a positive, productive, and open manner to encourage honest feedback and learning.

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