Start Right and Finish Strong

In the last two weeks, I’ve kicked off three new projects. Two were digital product related and the other one related to marketing and branding. Chances are, you work on projects as well, so I thought I’d share a few things learned over the last few years.

Try these two pages from Honestly’s playbook. They may help your next project get off to a good start and finish strong.

Project Kickoff

Once we have the start date, signed contracts, deposits, and other details out of the way, we schedule a project kickoff. I used to combine this with workshops or other discovery related meetings but found it added too much complexity.

The project kickoff now gets it own slot and is focused on relationships, logistics and alignment of expectations. Here is what a common agenda looks like:

  1. Team: We introduce team members across collaborators and what role(s) they play
  2. Scope: We review scope and set expectations to embrace change, unpredictability and priorities
  3. Timeline: We confirm schedules and solidify important milestones
  4. Approach: We discuss and agree on an approach that mitigates risks and ensures success
  5. Logistics: We put important dates and meetings in everyone’s calendars, sync up on workflows and settle on project tools

It’s good to block out an hour for project kickoff but it usually takes about 45 min to get through everything. You’ll be amazed how much trust and confidence is built by finishing the first meeting early and starting out ahead of schedule. This small win starts to build momentum.

Project Retrospective

When I started leading creative projects, we called these postmortems. The term never sat well with me. It always felt cold and lifeless (Thank you. I’ll be here all week. Try the veal.). I was glad when we started calling them project retrospectives or “project retros” for short.

The concept is simple. After a project period or phase ends, schedule 30-45 minutes for everyone to discuss how the project went using this three-question framework:

  1. What went well?
  2. What didn’t go as well as hoped?
  3. What can we do to improve working together moving forward?

That’s it. This forum empowers people to provide candid input, give praise to other team members and focus on solutions to make the next project go better.

It’s cool to see a team well-tuned for the next project after a good retrospective.

There you go. Two project investments I’ve found worthy of the time. Do you do something similar? If not, try these and let me know how they go.

Until next time.