The cause of death is...

How using a pre-mortem can help you avoid killing your product.
16 August 2019 by
The cause of death is...
Doubly Good, Leigh Garland
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In my current project, we just conducted a pre-mortem on our product. It can be a really valuable way of uncovering threats to the survival and success of your product or service. So, what did we discover?

We’re currently in a very (very very) early stage - where we’re hacking things together to put ideas in front of customers. We have two thorny issues with the main business’s operations. One is payments, the other is an automated pick-packing system. So far, we have found ways to hack the system in order to make things work.

The payments will be handled by Stripe, and we have a manual pick-pack operation, that can handle 50 orders a week. Fine for a test…

In the pre-mortem, both of these risks were raised. Eyes were rolled - we’ve heard it all before. But, in the context of seeing our ‘dead’ product we suddenly realised that unless we could resolve the payment issue, we can never move to the automated pick-pack operation. This would leave us at a maximum of 50 manually picked orders a week.

What did we find? Our product will starve to death in a very short space of time.

The purpose of running a pre-mortem is to act. As well as this significant risk, we found three more high-risk potential causes of death. Now that we understand the implications, we’ll prioritise solving these problems.

Pre-mortems are a powerful tool - I’ll follow up this article with more about how I run them.

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