I received an invite to a project kick off meeting again today, whoopy do, nothing unusual about that in anyone's working day, it was however the invite that got me thinking. It got me thinking back across the past 15 years or so about how I have seen projects of all types, and shapes and sizes kicked off.
Let’s look briefly at the invite I received today, it was an hour long, it had 70+ people on the invite list from SVP’s to Junior engineers, it included lofty aspirations about defining or confirming scope, creating a milestone plan, and looking at user stories! It’s one way of going about it, I attended the meeting, and honestly it wouldn’t be useful to blog about the outcome, you can probably predict it, so we will move on.
Then there is the opposite end of the scale are efforts where I have seen a small group, 5 or less subject matter experts, lock themselves away, sometimes for weeks, and define end to end every aspect of a plan and who will work on it and when, and what the outcome will be. Only to watch it all end in tears, either at the outset or at some point during delivery. Creative people i.e. engineers very rarely buy into something they have had little or no part in creating and thinking about.
More recently i.e. over the past few years I have been exposed far more regularly to an intermediate approach that is perfect for agile software development. It’s fairly well known now, and lots of companies have a flavour of it, the inception. A series of carefully designed workshops that cover specific topics, with the engineering team that will develop the solutions, and the stakeholders of the solution. Typically they last between 2 to 5 days, they are an investment, and they will reap you rewards. They have specific outputs or a pack, and if done right those packs should be able to be handed to any software development team, and they should be able to begin work from that alone.
I could write massess about this subject listing endless examples and variants of inceptions, and output packs and templates, but I would much rather meet you for a coffee to chat about your experiences and approaches, and maybe find a way to help you and your team enhance your current approach to starting projects. In the meantime, good luck & keep following us for more!