Agenda Item Explanations


Integrated Project Management
By Earl Hall, Juliane Johnson
Table of Contents
Chapter 4.  The Kickoff Meeting

While walking the team through the agenda, the project manager should discuss the points that follows each agenda item, and encourage the team to raise questions if some points are confusing.

  1. Explain why the project is being undertaken: The project manager should draw on discussions with project sponsors, recounting the ideas and concerns that led up to undertaking the project; explain the perceived need and the expected rewards following successful project completion; and point out the priority the project has within the organization. This explanation helps the team to recognize the importance that management places on the project and assures that management will support the resources committed to the project.

  2. Present the project specification: The project manager should note that the specification explains exactly what the project's product is intended to be, and that the project's success is measured by how closely the finished product measures up to the specification. The project manager also explains the procedures for implementing changes to the specification. Experienced team members typically are accustomed to project objectives being changed during a project's execution. They will need assurance that these interruptions and intrusions are well recognized by the project manager and will be carefully monitored and controlled. (Change procedures are discussed later in detail in Chapter 13.)

  3. Introduce the team members: The project manager should introduce the team members and explain how their expertise will be used in the project. He or she should introduce each person according to when they will participate, following the order the project will take from beginning to end. This order will demonstrate the flow of activities. Each person can speak for him- or herself with the smaller projects. However, with larger projects, the project manager should make the introductions to save meeting time. Team members may or may not know each other, but even if they are acquainted, it is important to foster good communication and cooperation by pointing out the specific role that each person is expected to play. In addition, it is useful for the project manager to handle the introductions so these important points are covered and be certain that the introduction period does not suffer from a long-winded team member.

  4. Explain IPM team collaboration and lead exercises: (Note: Detailed explanations are found Chapter 1)

    1. Communication: The project manager should explain good communication skills and how to give and receive feedback. He or she should stress that one reason IPM is successful is that the team not the project manager makes the critical project decisions, which are achieved through discussion during team meetings. It also should be noted that this only can be accomplished through effective team member communication. Feedback to insure good communications is covered in Chapter 1. It can never be overemphasized. Feedback examples must be cited during the kickoff meeting one example is that of writing a textbook. In this example, the publisher's acquisitions editor asks the author when the book will be finished. The author replies, "September 1st," which could mean that he expects to get the last words down on paper by then. The editor, however, might interpret this to mean that the material will have been typed according to the specified format, hard copy will have been printed and diskettes made, and both mailed out by September 1st. Feedback, or querying each other, is essential between the editor and author so that they agree on the meaning of the term "finished." Getting this term correctly defined has great significance for the publishing house team who will copy edit the book and pass it along for composition and printing. It is relatively easy to neglect clarifying important terms and get the book-publishing project in trouble. This problem can become even more serious if the author and acquisitions editor do not talk to each other at all. If each is a task leader on the larger book publishing team and they do not communicate about the work, the rest of the team will be in limbo. A project manager must use examples of this type to urge task leaders to spontaneously communicate with each other often to assure that they agree on the message.

    2. Development of team norms: The project manager should explain that the norms serve as guidelines for participation in team meetings. One thing that is learned through the operation of self-managing work teams is that norms (also called rules of procedure or engagement) play an important role in team meetings and in team collaboration. The project manager must explain the norms and conduct a norm-building exercise, using examples such as: "never let a meeting run over two hours," "arrive on time," "stick with the agenda," "come prepared," "do not interrupt each other during discussions," "focus disagreements on project outcomes, not personalities," and so on (refer to Chapter 1).

    3. Collaborative leadership: The project manager also should discuss collaborative leadership, stressing that team members share in this leadership, and that this is done through spontaneous leadership role-playing (refer to Chapter 1).

    4. Conflict resolution and consensus decisions: The project manager also should lead a discussion of the personal conflicts that can arise between team members during a project. It must be explained that if conflict does not become personalized, it can be channeled toward reaching good project decisions. The principles of reaching a consensus decision also should be explained (refer to Chapter 1).

  5. Explain how an IPM project is planned, using the project planning Gantt chart: The project manager should pass out a copy of the project planning Gantt chart with tentative task dates, to each team member. The chart should look like Figure 4-1. The project manager should inform the team that they will be following a series of steps to complete the project. He or she should note that the output of one step serves as the starting point for the next step; the steps themselves are standard, but the procedure to execute each step is unique to IPM; and they will learn these procedures not all at once but as each step comes up. (Between meetings, each team member is to gather information to be used at the next meeting.) The project manager will pass out blank graph paper for a sample project planning Gantt chart to each team member. There are 13 steps on the Gantt chart that lead up to the time the project work is launched. Step 14 refers to the project manager's role of leading and managing the project's execution. Project planning task and task meeting dates are indicated on the Gantt chart. The project manager should note that the Gantt chart steps are not open to discussion! However, as planning progresses, the team will be able to decide on and revise the dates and the amount of time per step that will work best. This planning process must not drag out. Although team members should take their other responsibilities into consideration, they also must tend to the project. The priority given the project by their organization will help determine this project's priority. Should other work cause a planning delay of a week or more between steps, it is better to delay the whole planning process. Delays create loss of continuity, which is detrimental to good planning.

    Figure 4-1.


    The first two tasks listed on the sample Gantt chart in Figure 4-1, "finalize objectives" and "recruit team," came prior to the kickoff meeting. The kickoff meeting date (8 a.m., Friday) was chosen earlier by the project team.

    Reading across the chart, a diamond indicates the date of each two-hour meeting. (When more than one meeting per planning unit is required, additional diamonds will appear within a horizontal bar.) A horizontal bar represents the days that team members gather information for individual tasks, while simultaneously taking care of their other responsibilities.

    The sample in Figure 4-1 shows the kickoff meeting held in one two-hour session on a Friday. At the meeting's conclusion, initial action items are assigned to team members who determine the date and time for the next meeting, which is based on the time required to complete the action items. By starting work on Monday, this hypothetical team expects to be finished with the data gathering for the task list by mid-Tuesday, and so they set the next meeting for 1 p.m., Tuesday.

    At the two-hour Tuesday meeting, the team begins to collaboratively develop the task list. They also agree that they must reconvene to finish it, and set that date for 8 a.m., Friday.

    At the Friday meeting, each team member takes responsibility for tasks on the task list. Friday action items call for the individual task leaders to decide who will work on each task as well as the amount of effort and time each require. They also must clearly identify their tasks' immediate predecessors. The team decides that two and a half days will be allowed to gather this information. A session to develop the planning Gantt chart is scheduled for 8 a.m. the following Wednesday, and a second at 3 p.m., Thursday. The team also will set other project planning dates in a similar fashion.

    The planning meeting sequence, as outlined in the sample, must not be a long, drawn-out procedure. Even with large projects, individual planning units (such as creating the task list) should not take more than four days.

    Each task leader will copy (on graph paper) the planning Gantt chart that the team collaboratively develops for the project. This chart is kept as a reference, and is revised as the team revises its planning process. The project manager should coach the team members as they complete this process. Doing so will give them a better understanding of the project execution Gantt chart that will be developed later at the Gantt chart meetings. This longhand process works best for the project planning Gantt chart. Software is, however, more effective for developing the full project Gantt chart.

  6. Explain the product of the next meeting the project task list: The project manager should describe the action item that each team member must complete for the next meeting: To identify all tasks within their area of expertise, as well as all other tasks they can think of that are necessary to the project. There will be much overlap between the lists. This overlapping assures that the team will not miss an item or omit anything.

  7. Set the next and subsequent meeting dates: If it appears that the kickoff agenda is going to take longer than two hours, the project manager should plan to cut it off at two hours and reschedule a second meeting for completion. He or she should be respectful of the team members' other commitments when scheduling meetings.


    Integrated Project Management
    Integrated Project Management
    ISBN: 0071466266
    EAN: 2147483647
    Year: 2005
    Pages: 190

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