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The Everyday PM Podcast | Episode 23 "Pre-Mortem"

Welcome to episode 23 of The Everyday PM Podcast where I welcome back to the podcast Jennifer H. Elder, CSP, CPA, CVP (Certified Virtual Presenter), CEO of the sole proprietorship, The Sustainable CFO, to talk about Pre-Mortem: What is it and How to use it effectively.

Consider the saying, an "apple a day keeps the doctor away. What is that actually telling us? That preventative measures like getting in your daily fruits intake will help you stay healthy. Interestingly enough, we know this nagging feeling in the back of our minds that we should be doing theses things to prevent health risks later on, but it's hard for us to be motivated until it's too late. These risks aren't surprising to us. We see it coming.

The same is true for any project manager working on a complex project with several moving pieces. As you move through each project, it takes much effort to wade through the massive list of to-dos. You spend time firefighting while tasks pile up—things your gut instinct is telling you will lead to big problems down the line, but it's not urgent... yet. These risks can become significant and it's partially your doing.

This is where the idea of pre-mortem can be of utmost value to ensuring successful project execution. While a post-mortem comes into play at the end of a project, a pre-mortem happens at or around project kickoff. A conversation around what could have been can flip to what can be. Just like that, you have time back that you were likely to lose should you have continued down the spiraling path depicted above. In this episode, Jennifer and I breakdown the pre-mortem exercise and discuss the following:

  • What is pre-mortem?

  • Why should we conduct pre-mortems?

  • How do you conduct pre-mortems?

Are you familiar with pre-mortem? Is it something that has benefited you in the past? Share your thoughts on pre-mortem exercises and whether or not it has contributed to the success of your projects. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!


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Worldwide Readiness Program Manager, Apple, Inc.

Program/Project management professional with 10 years of experience in product development, physical retail launches, and health care industries.

CEO◊Presenter◊Virtual Emcee◊

For more than 25 years, I have been helping organizations and individuals become future-proof by transforming good technical professionals into great leaders with top-notch communication skills, strategic leadership, and a future-focused mindset.

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