A typical premortem begins after the team has been briefed on the plan. The leader starts the exercise by informing everyone that the project has failed spectacularly.
We failed. What happened?
The goal of this exercise is to look back from the future, and understand why we failed. The exercise can appear to be negative (after all, we’re not going to fail, are we?) but it is a great way to understand your key risks and prepare the team to meet these challenges.
Tigers, Paper Tigers, and Elephants
The terminology used here is from Shreyas’s excellent article on the subject: