What is a kick - off meeting?
A kick-off meeting marks the official start of a project. All involved should be invited: These include the project team, project managers, steering and advisory group (if any) and other possibly involved partners. Such a meeting provides clarity, transparency and commitment to stakeholders, the project partners and the public.The meeting provides the opportunity to set up constructive cooperation.
The appropriate time for a kick-off event is when:
- The project proposal is approved
- the project team has been designated (see Project Organization)
- the project organization is established (see Roles)
Before the kick-off meeting, several meetings have usually taken place in the preparation of a project.
What are the goals of a kick-off meeting?
Essentially, the following objectives should be achieved at a kick-off meeting:
- All participants in the project have the same initial information.
- The nature of the cooperation is established.
- The roles of individual members are defined and known to all.
- The parties are convinced of the project and motivated.
The project manager is responsible for the organisation and hosting of the meeting and for achieving the objectives.
What are the order of events and the content of a kick-off meeting?
The project manager sends out the agenda in advance, with the topics and the timescale for the discussions. The main issues are:
- Conveying important information about the project and the contract
- Presentation of the project and the first actual steps
- Getting to know the team members and other people who are involved
- Naming and clarifying of roles (decision-making authority or advisory role)
- Setting rules for cooperation
- Discussion of unresolved issues and critical points
The meeting is clearly structured but allows for open communication and is motivating .
Kick-off retreat with the project team
Following the kick-off meeting the detailed planning of the first stage will be developed. A sensible way to establish a good basis for teamwork and project identity is a one- or two-day retreat with the entire project team (see Team Development).This retreat includes the following:
- Develop detailed planning
- Address different opinions and expectations, in particular with regard to the objectives
- Discuss roles and tasks within the project team
- Establish a shared understanding of/for collaboration
- Address concerns and fears
When planning a kick-off retreat, two points are of particular importance: allowing sufficient time and finding an appropriate site where the team feels comfortable.
Why you would disregard these aspects
- Project preparation is very complex and the appropriate time for the kick-off meeting is missed.
- You find a kick-off retreat with the team unnecessary because the team members are motivated and interested.
What you have to gain
- In a kick-off meeting you establish committment, clarity and transparency and gain a solid foundation for your project.
- The kick-off retreat strengthens motivation, team identity and open and constructive cooperation.
What you can actually do
- Plan the kick-off meeting early on in the preparatory phase and use the meeting specifically as an example for future cooperation.
- Use the kick-off retreat for establishing fruitful cooperation within the team.
Questions for critical reflection
- What in your view is the biggest benefit of a kick-off meeting for your project?
- Are the reasons for participation in the kick-off meeting and each individual contribution to it clear?
- What kind of creative action could be imagined to see the project off to a good start?