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Play of the Month: Don’t skip that project kickoff meeting!

Edited
Kristen Roth Atlassian Team May 24, 2022
It can be hard to stop yourself from charging full speed ahead when you’re excited about a new project idea. :woman-running: 
But taking the time to establish project goals, define success, predict potential blockers, and plan out all the nitty-gritty details that come along with complex projects can’t be something we overlook. A good project kickoff meeting will set you up for long-term success and set the stage for the entire project. It’ll help ensure that our teams will hit the ground motivated, engaged, and focused and the project’s key stakeholders are all on the same page.
The most important aspect of the Atlassian Team Playbook’s Project Kickoff meeting involves sharing the project’s purpose by determining the project’s Vision, Mission, and Mission Tests. They’ll help provide inspiration and meaning to everyone involved in the project.
Here’s what we mean:
  • Vision: the impact your team will have when the project is completed.
  • Mission: the team’s work in achieving the Product Vision.
  • Mission Tests: how do we know this project is successful?

 

The Project Leader creates the initial Vision, Mission, and Mission Tests prior to bringing the whole team together, and then shares them with the entire project team at the beginning of the Play. The team will be broken out into smaller groups during the Play to refine the initial statements. At the end, the full group will be brought back together to present and discuss each newly-revised statement and the team will then make any agreed-upon changes.
Screen Shot 2022-05-24 at 4.54.47 PM.png
Do you make sure to run project kickoff meetings with your team? Are they worth it? And how does this style of project kickoff meeting sound to you? Let’s chat in the comments!

21 comments

Big fan of a Project Kickoff here! If it's possible, I highly recommend the team (vs just the driver) producing elements of a project plan during the kickoff.

It's not often that teams prioritizes developing project goals, milestones, success metrics, workstreams, etc as a team. But when that happens, there's often more thoughtful documentation because of all the input, and perhaps most importantly, more commitment from team members in following through on what the team collectively decides on in the documentation.

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Kristen Roth Atlassian Team May 25, 2022

Always coming in with the expert tips, @Christine P_ Dela Rosa . Thank you! 

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Since we're a client-facing software shop, we actually run 2 project kickoffs - one is an internal kickoff, for our team to get on the same page, learn what our roles will be for a specific project, and sketch out the project milestones. If there's nuance to the client relationship, this lets our teams discuss it and plan for it in private.

That lets Sales, PM, and Engineers present a unified front and support one another in the client kickoff, where we start to fill in any missing details, requirements, get specific materials requested formally, and plan how our team will communicate with client teams over the life of the project. It also gives a really nice moment for the sales team to introduce the project manager and leads, as a "warm handoff." 

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Kristen Roth Atlassian Team May 25, 2022

So smart, @Anne Saunders . Thank you for sharing!

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Andy Gladstone Community Leader May 25, 2022

@Kristen Roth thanks for this publish. I have been whiteboarding a project plan that will require a lot of cross departmental collaboration and was having trouble crystalizing the key points, measures and expected outcomes of the plan. Since reading this article I have honed in on the Project Plan Template to organize my thoughts and the Project Kickoff Template to define the communication and collaboration needed to successfully kick off the project.

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Kristen Roth Atlassian Team May 25, 2022

Glad to hear this helped, @Andy Gladstone ! That project plan template is so handy. Best of luck to you on the project! 

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Yes, and...remember to include the team formation things to jump start effectiveness / collaboration...and design the team t-shirt.  There are lots of good ideas for this work in Liftoff: Launching Agile Teams & Projects by Diana Larsen and Ainsley Nies.

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The kickoff meeting is one of the most important parts of starting a project. However, the experience on many projects tells me that the fundamental thing for a team is the ability to adapt to the various scope changes that the client requires throughout the execution of the project. The agile, in this sense, gives several ideas on how to best manage the evolution of a project.

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Connor Rising Star Jun 21, 2022

Really need to drill the importance of the kick off meeting into my team's minds.

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Craig Nodwell Community Leader Jun 23, 2022

I'm at a new org.  They just finished their first sprint cycles since I arrived.  I assure none of this is going on.  I'll be taking this thanks.
yoink 

Like Viktoriya Borisova likes this

Great post, I am new to my organization but I can see where this is going to help significantly with some of my upcoming work.

Even though I've never done this particular playbook, at my previous company we used to do kickoff meetings but they were not really standardized and expectations were never really drawn out. This is going to be a great template to get started. 

Thanks,
Brittany

Like Viktoriya Borisova likes this
Summer.Hogan Community Leader Jun 30, 2022

Great post! I love project kickoff meetings. I mainly work on maintaining an application now, but in my previous life I lead many projects. Another thing I add to my kickoffs is the Definition of Done! 

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In a very short time I have become a big fan of Atlas. Of the product, but maybe even more of the work agreements and proces it embodies.

One of the building blocks is the project directory, where you should answer 5 deceivingly simple questions about your project: 

  • what is that you're actually doing
  • why are you doing it
  • what does success look like
  • who will be working on it
  • when will it be ready

Answering these questions really creates a shared understanding for everyone. And writing it down makes sure you can always get back to it.

A project kickoff should in my opinion answer these exact same questions. But getting together at the start of a project can and should also act as an energising event to gather the team and spark some enthusiasm amongst the team. It is also a great occasion for people to raise questions they might have and sync on work agreements.

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Srinatha T Atlassian Team Jul 09, 2022

Great post and enjoyed reading perspective of different people here!!. Thanks for initiating the discussion @Kristen Roth  

Like Viktoriya Borisova likes this
Sakina Rising Star Sep 07, 2022

Agreed... Project Kickoff are  important  and every one should attend  

Yes I agree, kickoff meetings are important and anyone from kickoff meeting can understand the flow of the project without any douts at any time through out the project. 

Totally agreed with you

Yes the kickoff is the key success factor for any project, i personally prefer to make some alignments with major stakeholders before the kickoff to identify a common ground where we can capitalize on during the kickoff with a positive room for discussion and final agreement.

Deepak Rai Community Leader Nov 07, 2022

Really need to drill the importance of the kick off meeting into my team's minds.

Sayed Bares Community Leader Nov 10, 2022

Can't agree more, the kick-off meeting is really important.

@Kristen Roth , I agree with this approach wholeheartedly. If we don't take the time up-front, we pay for it during, and even after the project.

I have stressed this on every project that I am a part of, and have enforced it on each one I've managed.

Totally agree. Kick-off meeting is definitely essential for a successful project.

Well said and self-explanatory.

Kick-off meeting is a must. I also include assumptions, in scope, and out of scope details to set expectations.

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