Whether it’s a company rebrand or a product launch, the first kick off meeting of any big initiative effectively sets the tone for the entire engagement. Starting a project off on the right foot doesn’t just happen spontaneously. You can exponentially increase your chances of success if you dedicate the right amount of forethought in planning those initial strategy sessions, and structure your time with specific outcomes in mind.
Finding the language that is “just right” ultimately gets you a tighter project scope.
Workshop exercises are the perfect way to orient your meeting towards business goals while simultaneously building a cohesive project team. Diverse in approach, these collaborative sessions are designed to help a project through its lifecycle by establishing clear goals and inspiring creative thinking. Workshops are helpful at every stage of an engagement, but they can be especially powerful at the initial kick off, as alignment and discovery with key stakeholders is a critical part of project success.
- Pre-Mortem – Riffing off the idea of a “post mortems,” pre-mortems give teams the opportunity to discuss all concerns. By acknowledging these potential barriers and hiccups – and talking about them in concrete terms as if they already happened– your team is in a better position to proactively build around them.
Why it Works: When people take an event and place it in the past, they describe it more richly than when they take the same event and place it into the future. Tricking your brain into thinking like it happened removes the uncertainty factor. Your team can then begin to make sense of why a given scenario might happen by creating a more detailed narrative.
- Goldilocks Scoping – Goldilocks scoping focuses on the varying levels in which we often articulate our objectives and goals. Finding the language that is “just right” ultimately gets you a tighter project scope.
Why it Works: This tool allows you to check the level of focus at which you are working. A goal like “generate higher awareness” is at the top (too hot). Actual ideas like “generate awareness by a social media campaign aimed at moms with multiple children” live at the very bottom (too cold), as they leave no room for the team to create. Find that happy medium, and you’ll have a more focused vision.
- Rearticulate – This exercise is as simple as it sounds. Rearticulate helps you invent new ways of looking at a problem by first aligning on the right problem statement. Ultimately, you come up with even better answers in the process.
Why it Works: Words matter! How a problem is defined will often determine the type and quality of ideas that will be generated to solve it. The Rearticulate exercise allows you to create many different ways to define the problem, helping you generate potentially better, more creative ideas to solve that problem.
- 360 Review Exercise – Similar to a 360 end of year review a person would get, this exercise calls for a product to be reviewed (hypothetically) by the various teams within your business (e.g. marketing, operations, design). The product or department is given highlights from the year, as well as constructive criticism and identified opportunities from all perspectives.
Why it Works: By anchoring to a model everyone knows, stakeholders are given permission to be critical while articulating feedback it in a way that is forward looking. By asking different stakeholders to review as different departments, they are forced to think from another’s perspective.
Used correctly, workshop exercises can help you and your stakeholders to forecast pain points, inspire creative solutions, and achieve group consensus. Want to learn more? Download our Workshop Toolkit PDF for tips on how to lead a successful session, and more exercises that your company can use to guide a project through any stage of an engagement.