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Project Kickoff

Bring the team together at the start of a project and agree on what success looks like.

Pencil icon
Prep Time
30 mins
Stopwatch icon
Run Time
90 mins
Connected people icon
People
3-14
Spaceship

Project Kickoff

Bring the team together at the start of a project and agree on what success looks like.

Spaceship
Pencil
Prep Time
30 mins
Stopwatch icon
Run Time
90 mins
Connected people icon
People
3-14

Project Kickoff

Bring the team together at the start of a project and agree on what success looks like.

Pencil icon
Prep Time
30 mins
Stopwatch icon
Run Time
90 mins
Connected people icon
People
3-14
Progress bar

Project Kickoff in action

A team of app developers uses Confluence to prep for the Project Kickoff Play.

These filmmakers use Trello and Zoom to kickoff of their first full-length animated film project.

Designers brainstormed their mission in prep for kicking off a packaging redesign project.

What you'll need

Remote

Video conferencing with screen sharing

Digital collaboration tool (see templates)

In-person

Whiteboard

Sticky notes

Markers

Timer

Optional templates

Atlassian Templates

Instructions for running this Play

1. Prep 30 MIN

Before running the Play, determine roles on your project. You’ll want to identify your Project Sponsor, Project Leader, Facilitator, core team, and stakeholders. One team member might hold multiple roles.

  • Project Sponsor (aka Executive Sponsor): the most senior stakeholder who has the most to gain or lose from your project’s delivery.
  • Facilitator: responsible for keeping the meeting flowing and focused.
  • Project Leader: provides vision to the team on what they’re delivering and why.
  • Core team: the team responsible for executing the work of the project.
  • Stakeholders: anyone with insight, information, feedback, or vested interest in the project’s outcome.

Have the Project Sponsor, Project Leader, and Facilitator meet before the meeting to draft a preliminary Vision, Mission, and Mission Tests. The draft will later be reviewed and revised by the whole team when running the Play.

  • Vision: the impact your team will have when the project is completed. What’s the bigger goal you’re trying to achieve?
  • Mission: the team’s work in achieving the Product Vision. What is their role in making the project a reality?
  • Mission tests: how do we know this project is successful? These tests indicate if our mission is on track and define progress towards completion.

For remote teams, create a collaboration document using one of the templates above if you’d like and share with the team in advance.

For in-person teams, bring your Vision, Mission, and Mission Tests to the session and post them where the team can see.

Checklist
EXAMPLE: PREP CHECKLIST

See how one team preps for their Project Kickoff using a checklist to guide the conversation.

2. Set the stage 5 MIN

At the beginning of the meeting, ask the team to consider the following principles:

  • Collaboration: We’ll be working together to lay the groundwork for discovery.
  • Good enough: The goal of the session is to get enough information for a shared understanding, which we’ll continue refining as the project is underway. We’re not here to perfect anything.
  • Possibility: Everyone should begin the session with an open mind, allowing for the possibility of discovery and innovation.

3. A word from our sponsor 5 MIN

Have your Project Sponsor open the session by welcoming attendees and sharing a quick word about the project and how it fits in with the organization.

4. Break the ice 10 MIN

Encourage engagement and collaboration early on in the session by introducing a short icebreaker.

Ask everyone to introduce themselves, explain their role on the project, and answer one icebreaker question.

See the Icebreakers Play for examples.

5. Share a purpose 60 MIN

This is the most important aspect of the Project Kickoff: sharing a purpose provides inspiration and meaning to the people involved in the project.

Start by sharing the initial Vision, Mission, and Mission Tests created by the Project Leader.

Then break attendees into three groups (if the team is remote and your video conferencing software has a breakout function, use it for this portion): team Vision, team Mission, and team Mission Tests.

Give each group 20 minutes to refine the initial statements.

At the end of 20 minutes, bring the group back together to present and discuss their newly-revised statements. Make any agreed-upon changes to them, then vote to formally accept them for the project. You can (and should) refine them later in the project as you uncover new information.

TIP: ROMAN VOTING

Try a Roman vote to align your team on the project purpose.

Thumbs up = I accept

Thumbs sideways = I’ll go along

Thumbs down = I have a concern

6. Close 5 MIN

Ask your Project Sponsor to close the meeting by providing feedback to the team on what they’ve developed in the session and by thanking participants for their attendance.

TIP: IT’S A START

The Project Kickoff Play is flexible and should be adapted to your team. See if there are other Plays you can run that would set the team and project up for success.

TIP: NOW FOR THE FUN PART

All work and no play makes a dull project team. Arrange a fun event shortly after the kickoff, like virtual games or a social outing.


Follow-up

Milestone review

In a separate session or at the end of the Play if there’s time, go through your project’s proposed timeline. Highlight any key milestones or deliverables. As the project progresses, revisit the timeline with the team to update it with your progress and re-estimate proposed dates.

Play around

Now that you’re ready to dig into your project, you can use a product like Jira or Trello to set up a backlog of work needed to complete your project. It might be a good time to set some Objectives and Key Results. Or if during your kickoff session, the team realized a decision needs to be made for an aspect of the project, try a DACI Decision-making Framework Play to determine next steps for solving it.

Variations

Add a pitch

After creating your Vision, Mission, and Mission Tests, add in an Elevator Pitch Play to neatly wrap them up into one statement of value.

Reflect

Following the icebreaker, run a short Retrospective Play on what you’ve learned from past projects and how you will apply those lessons to this project.

Working Agreements

Determine a set of operational guidelines the core team agrees to in order to create an environment for the project’s success. Put it another way: How will we work together to get the job done?

Follow the Working Agreements Play to set the groundwork for your team’s culture and behaviors. You’ll refine your Agreements as the project continues.

Roles & Responsibilities

After you agree on your project’s purpose, what are the individual roles on the project?

Run the Roles & Responsibilities Play to provide team members with clarity on how they will each contribute towards the project’s success. This Play also helps identify any gaps in skills or functions so you can address them early on in the project.

TIP: OPTIONAL ATTENDANCE

Not everyone needs to attend all parts of the kickoff. Keep any variations you add to just the core team.


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Still have questions?

Start a conversation with other Atlassian Team Playbook users, get support, or provide feedback.

Still have questions?

Start a conversation with other Atlassian Team Playbook users, get support, or provide feedback.

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