✓ Do not use this time to spread information.
✓ Don’t assume that everyone knows each other.
✓ Do not assume that there is a common understanding of the project.
✓ Make sure that you define success.
✓ Keep an eye on what your team thinks about the project and give
A good kick-off meeting will bring your project team together with a common understanding of what you are doing and why you are doing it.
It is common knowledge: The kick-off meeting, which has lasted no more than 60 minutes of your life, you will never get back.
Now it’s your turn to lead one. Don’t go down the same road.
But why do kick-off meetings fail? What are their fatal flaws? How can you organize your session so that everyone can use their time wisely?
Whether you are working with colleagues or with an external customer, a successful kick-off meeting will get your project on the right track. Before you set up your agenda, take a moment to read these tips.
What is a kick-off session anyway?
A good kick-off meeting brings your project team together with a common understanding of what you are doing and why you are doing it. It is a time to decide how you will work together (how will we communicate? How often will we meet?), set a rough timeline and challenge risks.
Kick-off sessions usually take place when a project has passed the “presentation phase” and is ready to enter the execution mode. They should involve the core team of the project and all other people whose work will be affected by the project.
Tip 1 : Do not use this time to spread information.
This type of session is a massive waste of time. If you only need one-way communication, it is better to share a document, create a project poster or use a similar technique. But since you’re going to the trouble of organizing a meeting, why not set an agenda to keep your team focused on success?
Tip 2 : Don’t assume that everyone knows each other.
The larger your organization, the more likely it is that a few people will be working on your project, working together for the first time. Even if they know each other by name, they don’t necessarily have the level of trust they need to work well together and give their best.
Consider putting a short icebreaker at the top of your agenda. This can be simple (name, role and tenure in the company) or silly.
Tip 3 : Do not assume that there is a common understanding of the project.
Building a common understanding of what you will do and why is a legitimate goal for a kick-off meeting, but it is more meaningful if it is interactive. Take 10 minutes to work with your team to create a vision rather than flip through a slide deck. It’s as easy as filling in the gaps.
Tip 4 : Make sure that you define success.
When your team has a clear, measurable goal in mind, they are naturally drawn to decisions and actions that will help them achieve that goal. However, without clear measurements of success, a team tends to waver and is generally less effective.
With your vision statement in mind, ask everyone to write down what they think shows that the project was a success. Discuss how you could measure each metric and give a finger-in-the-air target for each metric.
Tip 5 : Keep an eye on what your team thinks about the project and give
Set a goal for each metric.
When people are not convinced they are working on the right things, or when they are frustrated by poor collaboration, they simply don’t put their heart into it. And after all the thoughts you put into this project, the last thing you need is an apathetic, unbound team!
Start the kick-off meeting by asking everyone to turn their thumbs up, down, or sideways to show how they feel about the project. Don’t stress yourself if you get a lot of thumbs down and sideways. This is perfectly normal. Ask the same question at the end of the meeting. If you have put some of the suggestions here on your agenda, there is a good chance that the atmosphere will be positive.