Pre-Parade & Pre-Mortem

Larry Summers. He’s on the board with us, the former treasury secretary of the US. He’s on the board at Sequoia. And he introduced me to this framework of a pre-parade and a pre-mortem. And we actually have made it a default in our investment memos. And it’s something that we take to portfolio companies, where we ask them, imagine three years, sometimes five years into the future. And you’ve been fabulously successful. What are the conditions that led to that? What decisions did you make that led to that success? And then conversely, write your pre-mortem. What are all the things that went wrong?

There’s a version of this in Amazon and the way that they write press releases when they start to do product development, because it’s thinking about that moment of success and what does it actually encapsulate? And the beauty of it is it clarifies the mind to focus on first order issues. I’ve seen management teams change direction and change prioritization on reflecting on these pre-parade, pre-mortem dimension. And we use it at Sequoia repeatedly at our offsites. Imagine the venture business in a decade, and Sequoia is gone. We presided over the decline of Sequoia, this team, the people here in this room, it was us. What happened? What did we not do?

Roelof Botha, Partner at Sequoia Capital

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