Kick Ass Kickoff Meetings

by Kevin M. Hoffman

18 Reader Comments

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  1. Very comprehensive and thorough article. A lot of great ideas for even the most in-depth kick off meetings. Well done Kevin.
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  2. Appreciate the compliments, Macfawlty!
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  3. It took me a minute to get the illustration… Good one! :) About the collaborative hands-on activities, *great* suggestion. We’re (probably) all adults here, but anyone who works with kids in group settings (or has them, I imagine) knows how great hands-on things can be in engaging individuals and building camaraderie. How outside-the-box _brilliant_, to tailor and apply those principles to the _grown-up_ world, for the sake of productivity.

    I’ve passed this article on to my team. Thanks for sharing!
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  4. Fantastic article. Great tangible advice. I try to get as much worked through with ever stake holder before even quoting on a project however this isn’t always possible. The “pre - kick off meeting” is a fantastic solution. I’ve sent this to all my staff for a good read. We will definitely be implementing this. Nothing upsets me more than my time being wasted therefore I always keep my clients time in high regards. Thanks for the great article.
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  5. Thank you for your point about how we teach children, Eddie! It is an excellent observation and coincidentally rather poignant. My mother was an elementary school teacher for nearly 30 years, and we often spoke at length about the different ways in which different types of experiences (e.g. aural, tactile, gestural) supported understanding different concepts, and even different stages of development. Just because we “grow up” doesn’t mean we have to disengage other modes of experience. Now if only I could figure out how to work a rock concert into some sort of exercise. Lucia - nothing would please me more than to hear about how any of these ideas are having impact in your work. If you find any of these approaches have an interesting effect on your process, good or bad, please drop me a tweet so we can discuss.
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  6. Does this not create the issue of “design by committie?
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  7. @sebgreen I think the key difference about the approaches Kevin has outlined and “design by committee” is that his include a knowledgeable facilitator to guide the project and let participants feed of off one another, while DbyC seems to result more from a lack of leadership and just getting a bunch of people talking, without necessarily engaging with one another in a thoughtful way.
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  8. sebgreen - that’s a valid concern, but in addition to PDM’s point about making sure that these discussions are facilitated by a knowledgable design practitioner (thanks, PDM!), keep in mind that this is exploratory design, and not your first round deliverable. After the collaborative work, you’ll go off and actually develop a design (wireframe, photoshop comp, html prototype—whatever your poison may be). That first attempt at a design may deviate significantly from what was developed in a kickoff sketch, but it is informed by those collaborations and the discussions that took place around them. And your client or partner will recognize their own contributions in your design, serving to minimize the sometimes adversarial tone of a first round design review.
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  9. Lovely post mate :) Meetings will surely be much more fun!
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  10. These hands-on activities remind me of the theatre games typically taught in improvisation classes. I wonder if some of the rules of improv would apply, such as: Say “Yes - and”
    Don’t block
    Be specific
    Commit
    Make choices
    Listen to your partner
    Give information to your partner
    etc. There are a lot of “improv rules” out there. I stole the above from David Alger http://bit.ly/9joctL
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  11. @Hosting John Alden - Thank you! @rjmacadaeg - Thanks for sharing that list! I’m curious if any of the approaches to improv that you mention are incorporated into this book: http://www.gogamestorm.com/ I’ve already ordered my copy.
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  12. Good ideas on all accounts. Thanks! Since kickoff meetings sometimes last as long as that post (LOL), I suggest an ample supply of snacks and beverages.  Maintaining blood sugar levels can keep the meeting productive and fun. Learned that from teaching/parenting kindergarteners — its equally applicable for adults.
    ~ @jpatrickdesign
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  13. very thought-out article, i found this really interesting, thanks.
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  14. bq. Projects have their own cultures, just like organizations. The sooner you take an active role in building that culture to compliment the organizational one, the happier everyone will be. Compliment should be complement.
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  15. bq. Compliment should be complement. Thanks @bryanjbusch! All fixed.
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  16. Thanks for your points and compliments, jpatrickdesign and designvibe. Food and meetings should always go hand in hand. To your point, jpatrickdesign, I’d like to see a catering company that specializes in kickoffs, workshops, and longer planning meetings. meetingfood.com, or something like that.
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  17. Thanks. Really enjoyed the article, Kick Ass Kickoff Meetings. It provides very insightful ideas for involving stakeholders to ensure project success. In fact, it inspired my latest blog posting in which I cited Kevin Hoffman and the UIE reprint of this article, and his suggested pre-kickoff questions to ask stakeholder interviewees:
    Relationship Management Starts Here: Preparing for Client Kickoff Meetings http://robwolfemba.wordpress.com/2011/01/28/relationship-management-starts-here-preparing-for-client-kickoff-meetings/
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  18. I particularly appreciate the advice of not having the REAL kick-off meeting too early. Scoping out the landscape for everyone who might have a say or impact the project can save a lot of wasted time and energy.
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