A placemat is a small cloth placed at a dining table which sits beneath a table setting. But at Microsoft, a placemat is something different.
A placemat is a document that lays out various important criteria or issues in a visually-pleasing manner. It gets its name from the placemat template that goes at the dining table with outlines for where the dinner plate goes, where the water glass goes, where the different forks go, and so on.
A strategic placemat might look like this:
To make people more productive at work, at home, or on the go by delivering a world-class experience that removes all stumbling blocks to success.
• Increase customer satisfaction and usage.
• Learn from our customers’ usage patterns.
• Reduce support incidents.
In practice, there are a lot more boxes on the placemat, with additional columns for things like Initiatives and Metrics for Success, but I got tired of making up generic-sounding text.
Another kind of placemat is a lower-level feature placemat, with a box for each feature under development.
Add widgets to all gadgets.
Convert existing doodads to widgets where possible. Investigate alternatives for remaining doodads.
The placemat serves as an agenda for the placemat review meeting, where representatives from teams that have boxes on the placemat report on the status of their work. These placemat reviews tend to be convened by senior executives, so preparing for the placemat review is an important and somewhat stressful activity.
It’s impressive how much text it’s possible to write in these kinds of documents without actually saying anything.
This comment has been deleted.
I know that. It does not change my comment.