Pre-mortems: How a Stripe Product Manager prevents problems before launch
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Pre-mortems: How a Stripe Product Manager prevents problems before launch

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Pre-mortem meeting

Prevent future threats by running a pre-mortem meeting with your team.
Get started by copying this template and customizing it for your team.
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Pre-mortem details

Meeting driver: type @...
Meeting date and time:
8/18/2023, 2:00 PM

Set timer for
00
10
minutes

Start Timer
-

End time:
Thursday 12:00 AM

Step 1: Meeting kickoff & prompt

10 mins
Welcome to our ! Everyone should have this doc open, ready to brainstorm together.
Click when you’re ready to begin →
Imagine we’re 3 months in the future and this project has failed spectacularly. What caused the failure? This exercise will help us identify and prevent those threats before they happen. We’ll classify potential failures into three categories:
🐅 Tiger - A clear threat that will hurt us if we don’t do something about it.
🐯 Paper Tiger - An ostensible threat that you are personally not worried about (but others might be).
🐘 Elephant - The thing that you’re concerned the team is not talking about.

Ready to get started? Head to step 2 👇 .

Step 2: Quietly brainstorm threats.

10 mins
Everyone quietly brainstorms threats in the table below. Each person should add at least 2 tigers, and as many paper tigers and elephants as needed. Leave the switch off so only your own ideas are shown.
I’m done brainstorming

Threat
Show everyone’s ideas
Author
Threat
Type
Search
Author
Threat
Type
Upvote
Notes
1
Alan Chowansky
Worried we haven’t tested all the edge cases on mobile app
🐯 Paper Tiger
1
Open
2
Adam Davis
Might be some PR backlash on new face recognition software.
🐘 Elephant
3
Open
3
Maria Marquis
Photo tagging involves manual work for quality team.
🐅 Tiger
1
Open
4
Adam Davis
Ops team will have to change their processes
🐅 Tiger
5
Open
5
Maria Marquis
Consumers might not be used to new form factor of computer.
🐘 Elephant
2
Open
6
Alan Chowansky
Floppy disks are too easy to bend. Customers might complain.
🐯 Paper Tiger
2
Open
There are no rows in this table

Step 3: Quiet voting & group discussion.

10 mins voting, 20 mins discussion.
Flip the switch above to show everyone’s ideas. Then, quietly read and vote on the threats you think are most important. Limit 5 votes per person to focus the discussion. Finally, go around the room, each person sharing which threat(s) resonated most. Take notes as you go.
I’m done voting

Step 4: Draft an action plan

10 mins
Meeting driver: Group the biggest threats into themes, propose mitigating actions, and assign an owner to ensure the mitigations happen. Then share the action plan with your team.

Add theme
Theme
Related threats
i
Proposed Mitigating Actions
Owner
1
Privacy
Worried we haven’t tested all the edge cases on mobile app
Might be some PR backlash on new face recognition software.
Do comprehensive QA process
Set-up day-of-launch war room
Alan Chowansky
2
Operations
Ops team will have to change their processes
Photo tagging involves manual work for quality team.
Communicate out plan with operations leads before launch
Do premortem with ops team
Lola Tseudonym
3
Customers
Floppy disks are too easy to bend. Customers might complain.
Consumers might not be used to new form factor of computer.
Run a free trial in a single market
Survey potential customers
Maria Marquis
There are no rows in this table

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