Post Mortem Magazine

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Years ago I used to read a magazine called Game Development (at least I think that was it). I’ve never worked in game development myself, but I found it fascinating to take a little peek into the world of the game development teams. They were always working on some cutting edge game engine technology that enabled “the next generation of jaw dropping graphics” and some form of ridiculously enhanced gaming experience. At the time it seemed to me like the game developers were very much the real deal – the applications I wrote were childish by comparison. The level of performance optimization they engaged in was astronomical compared to anything I dealt with. The geometry they used to describe the 3D worlds they created was a language all it’s own. It looked like all the cool kids were in gaming.

There was a regular article in the magazine called something clever like “Post Mortem”. Every month they would publish a post mortem written by a project manager or team that had just released a new game. These were not happy-go-lucky-aren’t-we-cool reports. No, these were unflinching, unsparing critiques of all that happened on the project. There was drama, daunting challenges, and total train wrecks. This stuff was riveting!

I used to think to myself, “Everybody should be doing this!” I was already working on agile projects at the time. I was dutifully doing a team retrospective every 2 weeks, but I never got the nerve to publish one. I probably should have, but I didn’t think at the time that our stuff would be all that interesting (in hindsight I have had my fair share of project train wrecks). Nobody else published post mortems either. This gaming magazine was the only place I’ve seen them widely published.

It would be interesting to have a magazine composed of just project post mortems and retrospectives. In a very real way it would be a collection of experimental results. Some of those experiments would be successes and many would be failures, and each and every one of them would be useful.

Of course who would read such a publication? Project Management geeks? Scrum Masters? And what would we advertise in this little catalog of triumphs and disasters? Anti-depressants? Liquor? Well, all kidding aside, I really do think it would be useful. Of course nobody makes magazines anymore. It would have to be a blog or something. Not a bad idea really. Hmmm…

2 Responses to Post Mortem Magazine

  1. benlinders says:

    Tom, I think it could be interesting to share and learn results from retrospectives. People could read about what was discovered and how was dealt with it. We could all learn from that.

    It could be things that went wrong and also good things, nothing wrong with recognizing success and knowing what caused it.

    @BenLinders
    Co-author of Getting Vaue out of Agile Retrospectives

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