A well defined plan and commitment from key people are essential for success in projects
Conversation is the most effective way to draw a team around a plan
People in mature project teams, under the leadership of a competent project manager will know how to get on with the work, reporting on their progress and logging issues in enough time for them to be addressed. However, even in these ideal teams, there are times when a healthy, structured conversation can add dramatic value to the process of delivery. In our experience we have seen people who are good at facilitating to consensus and other people who are good at planning. But combining these two skills to create a plan in the ‘space in-between’ is a special talent, one that we have developed to a high degree.
You may wish to consider the following project workshops:
The sponsor, customer and other senior decision makers gather in a workshop to define:
- The background and reason for a project
- A clear objective
- A high-level scoping (the possible sub-projects)
- The project team
Project Scoping workshop
The project team meet with the sponsor and customer to scope the project in more detail. In this workshop they will:
- Review to understand the project Background Statement and Objective.
- Review the suggested sub-projects
- Define the tasks and deliverables for each of the sub-projects
- Review and update the risks
- Agree the structure of the project team as well as the project process
The aim of the planning workshop is to create a network diagramme based on the Tasks and deliverables defined in the scoping workshop. This can be done effectively by writing the tasks and deliverables on Post-it notes and ordering them on a wall chart. The team usually adds and deletes tasks and deliverables as they do the sequencing. And then – when they get to put durations and expected dates of delivery on the notes, they take ownership of the work to be done. There is such a big difference between asking “what should happen next?” and asking “how long will this task take you?”
Sometimes for large or complex projects, there is benefit in carrying out the scoping process at a sub-project level. The agenda is the same for the Project Scoping Workshop. The sub-project team must be there and it iis worth considering inviting other members of the project team who need to interface with the particular sub-project being scoped.
When a project starts, the team gets their heads down and works on their assigned tasks. And there is an interesting time, half-way through the life of a project, when the team, look up from what they are doing and briefly engage in a conversation about how to continue. By making the most of this opportunity you can get the most out of the work. This is how the gifted coach gets the most out of the team in the second half, after 20 minutes in the dressing room. I am often asked to facilitate refocus workshops with teams who want help with this conversation.
Post-project review and learning workshops
When the project has been delivered and the pressure is off, there is a brief period in which the team are able and ready to reflect on what went well, to bank it and what they should do differently the next time. Also called a ‘Post Partum Workshop’. A well designed session provides is a time for learning and a time for healing. This should be a reward for the team.