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The Other Half of Project Kickoff You’ve Forgotten

For most, the project kickoff is just a one-and-done event where the project manager articulates the goals and context of a new project for the team. However, the kickoff can and should be more than that. As project leadership coach Susanne Madsen explains in a post at her website, the kickoff can also be used to define the team identity. Taking this extra step will greatly improve the odds of project success.

Strong Team, Strong Results

As Madsen explains it, the kickoff traditionally handles the “hard” aspects of project delivery—the technical specifications such as timeframes and stakeholder expectations. The “softer” aspects often go undiscussed, even though they are just as important to delivering the project on schedule and to quality expectations. To address this gap, Madsen recommends holding a few meetings and/or workshops where you might try the following things with your new team:

  • Use icebreakers
  • Share a story
  • Set ground rules
  • Write a team charter
  • Conduct personality profiling

Icebreakers are just any question that let you learn something interesting about each other, like, “Do you have a hidden talent?” or “Where would you travel if you could go anywhere?” Similarly, you could ask people to share a story, but a story about a good or bad previous team experience. When the person explains why it was good or bad, the team can then use that as a basis for discussion on the way they would like this new team to operate.

Another thing you can do through group discussion is set team ground rules. Madsen recommends having everyone write down their most important proposed rules on individual sticky notes and then discussing as a group whether to adopt them. These rules run parallel with a team charter, which Madsen also recommends. A team charter establishes the direction of the team and its boundaries, in addition to providing answers to many questions such as, “Why does this team exist?”, “How will we make decisions and resolve conflicts?”, and “What are our strengths and weaknesses as a team?”

Lastly, if you really want to go all-out, you might consider personality profiling:

If you’re working with team members who are relatively open minded and mature, you can make use of personality profiling tools to increase self-awareness and knowledge about the team’s strengths and weaknesses. There are several tools on the market, including StrengthsFinder, DISC and Insights. It’s best to get a qualified coach to help you run these tools and explain the outcomes. The awareness generated by these tools has the potential to take the team to a completely new level. But the results can also be a real eye opener to people, so it’s important that an experienced coach is available to help them clarify any doubts or uncertainties.

Project kickoff may or may not be the right time to introduce an identity crisis to random colleagues, but hey, the option is available to you.

You can view the original post here: http://www.susannemadsen.co.uk/blog/how-to-create-a-strong-team-identity-during-kick-off

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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