The importance of a project kick off

The weekend of July 7th, the Emerging Professionals group met together in Washington D.C. to workshop ideas and strategies for the next generation of project management professionals.

I couldn't write this post on the Sunday after the meeting, it would have just been a long love letter to each person. Their passion and focus on project management as the key to changing the world is just so inspiring. 

What struck me the most is the process by which we sought answers.  It's not always a straight forward question that will yield the most insight. Most times we have to ask around the issue and get the backstory to then actually get to the point. And I consider myself a get-to-the-point person. "Just the facts please" has been my motto when it comes to getting something done. Imagine the anxiety I feel realizing that this approach is entirely counter productive. 

Telling a story to source your scope

Instead of asking us directly, "How should we communicate with young professionals?", PMI asked us how we choose to trust a source and what makes us pay attention. We shared experiences to explain why we find something accessible, or funny, or trustworthy. The stories made us think, reconsider and align the objectives of the presentations that will result from the workshop. 

Exploring through stories may be more time consuming and is the exact opposite of a "just the facts" approach, but you'll save yourself work in the end by actually understanding why the project matters to your stakeholders. 

Global team

Each corner of the globe sat around the table: Canada, U.S. Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia. Some were students, others professionals. 5 women, 7 men.  Yet communication was easy, we bonded quickly and friendships were formed. Finding that common link in your team so that you can work together in a fun and useful way is important.

The purpose of a kick off is to officially mark the beginning of a project and bring the team together. A cohesive team, even a global or virtual one, is a successful team. Stories help us discover that we aren't really different at all, no matter how far we travel.

One escape room later (#TeamTitanic4ever) and it didn't take much to get us to hold hands and jump for joy together.

United States Capitol, Washington D.C.

A huge thank you to the PMI team for bringing us together. I can't wait to visit as many of them as I can along the way!