It’s that time of year again, the busy season for strategy work.  We’ve been starting a lot of projects lately and the topic of kickoff meetings recently came up among our team, specifically why they are so important.

Sometimes we are tempted to blow through kickoff meetings…. Many projects take so long to get started with all the internal approvals and external coordination that people are kind of over it before really getting started.  Another “prep” meeting feels like a wasted step.

There’s a lot of value in getting everyone involved in the project together to both understand and buy into the project approach, timeline, and their roles and responsibilities.  These topics are arguably more important with part time team members, since they need to know how the project is going to fit in among all their other activities.  If all team members are clear on this up front, projects move much faster.  Spending the time kicking off more than pays back in speed of execution.

Even more valuable is the “why” discussion, and many kickoffs skip or skim this topic.  Gaining a common understanding and buy in to the benefits of a project helps the team focus on the end game and make good decisions throughout.  A good question to ask is “how will we know if we are successful in this project?”  During the kickoff meeting of a strategy recently, the execs agreed they’d be successful if they had an integrated, realistic plan vs. a document that ended up on the shelf.  We can use that as a checkpoint throughout to make sure we are getting maximum benefit from the project.