Pre-Animate focuses the team on what is needed for accomplishing the goals and objectives. At the beginning of the project, the hopes and concerns are high. Creating a space for team members to discuss what success will look like, how to get there and creating a thoughtful plan to capture what went right, the team purposefully shares knowledge and skills when it can be best used – AT THE START.


On project teams, much of the learning takes place when the project is complete. The team is called together to do an after-action-review or post-mortem or de-brief. Often these meetings look at everything that went wrong, and people are asked to reflect on the problems, create stories of how the problems occurred and how to prevent them in the future. What makes this process too little too late is that someone on the team or the team itself, with collective knowledge, saw these problems early on and still they occurred.

Pre-Animate is meant to shift the focus from problem talk to solution-talk (the team shares what has gone right / well; how that happened; and how to continue to improve) AND has the discussion at the beginning of the project.

Pre-Animate is a way to frame project work in the beginning to create tangible steps for success and ways to recognize progress and cooperation on the work to be done.

Different from After-Action, Pre-Animate asks team members to use their existing knowledge, skills, and planning at a time when impact can occur in the beginning.

  • Flip-Chart Paper
  • Markers
  • Post-it notes
  • A project that has a defined goals and expected outcomes
Time Frame
  • Dependent upon the project, between 30 – 90 minutes
  • Before the team arrives, have the questions written on flip chart papers.
  • If you want to get fancy, you can use the template above for visual effects.

Pre-Animate works best at the beginning of a defined project to be completed. I usually use it in a “Project Kickoff” meeting. Where all the team members meet, the project manager explains why everyone is here, their skill sets, and frame the project in a context that illustrates to everyone why this project, why now, and why everyone is part of this project.

Following the goals, roles, procedures and some early planning with the team, Pre-Animate starts by asking the following questions:

As a team lets look to the end date of this project. We have accomplished the project on time, within budget, and at the quality required from the customer. Plus we all feel good about the work we did, and as a team, we all want to work together again.

What went right?
  • How did we make that happen?
  • What specific actions were taken by the team for us to be so successful?
  • Describe in detail how we found solutions to problems and quickly implemented the solutions?
  • How did the people on this team communicate, delegate, and cooperate?

Taking time up-front to look for areas of cooperation and give team members the opportunity to address concerns then turn those concerns into what is needed for success grabs hold of the collective knowledge in the room, creating a path for the team to follow.

Facilitating this discussion, either write the responses from the team on the flip chart pages or ask them to write responses on post-it notes and stick them to the proper question.

Learning & Application

To complete Pre-Animate ask the team to look collectively at what they listed on What Went Right? The actions and steps for success can be explored to see how the team can implement them into action.  It is important that the team decides what is actionable and what is not; the list can be kept and used in future project meetings and made into a project team charter.

Idea From

  • Gamestorming; Dave Grey. Pre-Mortem page 117

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