Postmortem

Not the type of postmortem I mean, pic: picasaweb.com

If you watch a lot of crime shows like law & Order or CSI then you know what a postmortem or rather a postmortem examination is: an autopsy, an examination of the dead body to determine cause of death, or like I have learned to call it watching entirely too much CSI to determine COD.

There is another type of postmortem, though.  This one in business. In a positive or at least neutral incarnation the business postmortem is an discussion of an event after it occurred, e.g. after a meeting with a potential large customer the time gets together to discuss what went right and what went wrong.

The name postmortem, though, implies that generally more things went wrong than right and that one is not discussing a live deal but a dead one with the goal to understand what went wrong and to avoid it happen again.

Postmortems are generally painful for everybody involved, especially those who get assigned the balance of the blame for the failure.

It is a bit of a buzzword, in fact, it is one of those business buzzwords that I would not necessarily advise you to use liberally but it is good to know what your colleagues mean when they ask you attend a postmortem.  Unless you work in a crime lab no actual dead bodies will likely be involved.

Example: “Jane, are you coming?  Roger wants us all in the conference room right now for a postmortem of the client meeting earlier.”

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