The Kickoff


I held a kickoff meeting last week for the customer feedback project I am leading and like all kickoffs, I found you need to define goals and deliverables  in simple clear terms, and very crucially, define those terms and ensure there is agreement on them. And that requires a lot of forethought especially when you are dealing with people on other continents as I am.

Since I had done some background research on who would be participating in the project, I knew what their expertise was and what role they would play as well as what strength they could play on to help the project move forward. But to portray that in a way that made sense, I established 5 things that applied to all participants:

  1. The project – What’s it all about and why are we doing this. If the direction isn’t clear (to you and the team), the participants will lose faith immediately. This is where you start to establish the terms you’ll be using, such as “feedback loop” or “target group.” The wording can’t be too vague and it has to be relevant to all people in the team. And probably most importantly, they have be motivated by the project lead and they have to know they will learn something new too!
  2. The team – Who is who and what expertise do they bring to the table. That lets every one know who they can turn to for specific questions. Try to also see where gaps are when you assemble your team. These could be gaps in knowledge, in coverage, resources, or any other number of things. Anticipating gaps is hard but very useful.
  3. The goals/deliverables – This seems obvious, but goals and deliverables are often confused. What do you want to achieve and in what format will you present the results that are genuinely implementable (if at all). Make sure the deliverables are acceptable to the person sponsoring the project and that they can be acted on. As for the goals, make sure these are attainable chunks comprised of clear tasks. Use a work breakdown structure to figure out what you want to do. This can and will be modified in the course of the project.
  4. The timelines – Know the duration of your project and what are realistic blocks of time to accomplish your goals. And always plan in buffer for people quitting, changing roles, getting sick or the scope changing because the senior manager wants it that way. Above all be flexible.
  5. The resources – What are the repositories, sharepoints, meeting minutiae, agendas and other tools you will be using to run the project. Do you have a proper project charter? Is there a place to store all your info that everyone can access? Did you set up regular meetings? Does the agenda make sense and cover all aspects?  I am not counting the team members as resources here, just the tools you need to get the work organized and done.

So, that is what I used and the meeting went off perfectly. I even got praise from the sponsor and from her boss as well. Feels good when you have a plan and everyone understands it too.

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One response to “The Kickoff

  1. Can I work on your next project? You’ve put into words exactly the way I work well in teams!

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