This is your chance to get your project started on an extraordinary path forward for success. Don’t underestimate how critical it is to invest time and get started on the right track. Projects are temporary organizations to deliver a service, product or result. People come together on projects as strangers that meet and quickly become like a family since you hare interacting and highly dependant on each other for success. That is not likely to change. What we as project leaders can do is make sure people share a context and are on the same page, have alignment for action, and have a relationship that allows them to successfully coordinate action together rapidly.
Before you start running down the road to the kickoff, some preparation questions to ask are:
- Do you know what the project objective is?
- Is value to customer clearly defined?
- Is there a clear project sponsor?
- Have you mapped out the key talent and skills you need on the project?
- Do you know what the budget is?
- Do you know the challenges?
The key is to plan ahead and organize. Show the team that you are on top of it, organized and ready to work together to deliver a successful project.
The Project Startup Meeting
Take immediate charge of the meeting. Introduce yourself. Have others introduce themselves, what value they bring to the team and some little known info.
Start with background on project and answer the “Why we are here?” and “Why it is critical?” question that is at the forefront of people’s mind. You want to create value quickly. Review the agenda and what outcomes for the meeting are.
The kickoff is intended to bring everyone up to speed, not to discuss every item in detail.
Now that you have laid the groundwork and set the tone for the meeting, move on to
· Project sponsors and what they are looking for
· Review the promise to the customer
· Project assumptions
· Team operating guidelines
· Team member expectations and commitment
· Empower the team – Value of each member/ role definition
· Scope that is known
· High Level Milestones
· Review Calendar – when meetings will be held
· Communication plan
· Key success factors
The time to plan for your kickoff will depend on a few different factors such as size of the team, scope of the project, is it face to face or virtual so walk through each of the areas listed above and determine how much time is adequately needed to cover and add time for Q&A. It will allow buffer time so that everything can be completed in your scheduled time.
During the Meeting, be sure to keep the meeting flowing and avoid wasting time. Be the leader and end a topic, and move on.
Be personable and have fun so that everyone will enjoy participating more. I bring soft toys that can be found at the toy store to set the tone of fun. In a virtual environment be creative and put a cartoon on file sharing program, share a story. Everyone will be more focused and enjoy the meeting more if you take this approach.
Now after you have covered all these topics you should have a pretty good list of input to go back and update your info with. There should be a list of questions that could not be answered but will be over time and action items that team members can go back and work on.
Make sure everyone has blocked calendar at the time of team meetings and will make it a priority to attend.
Ask for feedback on the meeting, process and what should be common practice going forward. End the day with a big thank you to the team and an encouraging speech that creates the end vision for everyone to work towards.