There is a virus cropping up on my computer that no anti-virus software can eradicate! It’s the sudden rise of the ‘pre-kick off meeting.’ Before this year, I didn’t even realize such an animal existed. What is it, you ask? In my humble opinion, it’s a signal that the stakeholders are not on the same page and despite this, the project in question has been initiated without full buy-in or understanding by all of the constituents.
The pre-kick off meeting provides the project owner the illusion of control or that things are “moving forward”, but in my experience, it only serves to ramp up expectations from all the parties that are involved. Astute participants of the pre-meeting recognize the vacuum of consensus and rush to fill it (or more likely derail it), while those not included refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of any decisions made during the pre-kick off, making consensus all but impossible.
During my years of experience, I’ve learned that if you can’t gain alignment and get all stakeholders on the same page prior to or at an actual kick-off meeting, it’s highly unlikely that it’s going to happen with a pre-kick off meeting. The outcome of the pre-kick off meeting never eliminates the perceived road blocks, but only serves to exaggerate the initial road block and may even generate new ones.
Before you schedule that pre-kick off meeting, take a step back and determine who or what is driving the need for this meeting. Once identified, consider taking the issue up with that person or group prior to moving the initiative forward.
I think we can all agree that we don’t need yet another meeting on our already crammed calendars.