Managing executive communication and postmortems in high-risk environments

With postmortems, some common losing battles:

  • “My thing is more complicated”
  • “My thing was under-resourced”
  • “We didn’t have enough time”
  • “We should have built more automated testing earlier” — usually, you know that it was failing and investing time in testing would not have helped

You will be more successful with:

  • “We should have decreased scope in X way”
  • “We could have de-risked by doing X”

Other failure modes:

  • Assuming simplicity in someone’s domain

Other things I’ve learned recently:

  • Even if you are not responsible for implementing change, you can be responsible for highlighting problems and sharing the state of the world, and shining a light, even if it is embarrassing.
  • One of the most useful things you can do is have data that is presented well.
  • There’s a difference between saying “Ok, I agree” and then feeling responsible for the risks vs. saying “Ok, I agree, but here are the risks” and having the peace of mind that you pointed out all the problems (and that your party is also aware of these problems)