Pre-mortem exercise offers a way to reflect on a project that just finished, discuss what went well and what didn't, and identify learnings for the future. What if the exercise was done before, to anticipate and discuss potential issues earlier on?
Pre-mortem exercise can be used to run a session with the core team of stakeholders at the beginning of a project, ideally during the initial kick-off meeting. The goal of the activity is to project the participants at the end of the project and collaboratively try to answer a simple question: "what went wrong?" by imagining to write the project epitaph.
Identify possible obstacles and problems at the beginning of the project is a way to avoid or reduce potential catastrophies. The playful approach of the epitaph gives the oppurtunity to voice unspoken risks and concerns; force the participants to use the past tense to refer to the project helps creating a distance that allows to more easily raise hidden worries.
A second step of the session could focus on ideas and recommendations to try to avoid the identified risks, creating a sort of manifesto for the project work that can accompany the team throughout the whole journey.