Let’s warm up with the basics. This will be a first in the series of articles that I believe are important to put out in open for people to read and talk about. I am not putting any major details or structure here but trying to put the ideas in a casual format, just to get the discussion kickstarted. For my writing style, you may find a lot of movie or sports references as I am a big movie buff and an avid follower of some sports (Cricket is a given due to my Indian roots and personal passion).

What’s the first thing you hear when you are told about a new initiative / project / product being thought about. It is usually a brainstorming session or a kick off session or a casual meeting among the key players to get the whole thing or parts of it imagined, with a promise to sit again and talk more in details and may be in a more structured way.

No matter how process driven the organization is most of the major initiatives are usually find their roots with the senior management providing thought leadership. Yes, some initiatives do flow bottom up but most of them are in the Operations space as opportunities to fine tune and reduce time comes from the people who face the actual day-to-day transactions.

Now as most of the initiatives are discussed over a coffee or start with a casual note, the need to formally bringing the thoughts together and give it a structured format is necessary. When that first discussion happened, it was in the ideation stage, and like any idea it needs to be brainstormed with some relevant stakeholders to give it a more solid shape and substance.

How would you do it? Having individual discussions with all probable stakeholder parties would take a long time, so easiest way is to call all the relevant people for an Introductory session. People may think of jazzy names for this exercise, a kick off meeting, a pre-inception or Ideation workshop. Please don’t confuse this with the formal inception workshop.

This meeting should be precise, crisp and to the point. You’re not expecting people to come out with a Yes or No for their answer for this initiative but giving them just enough material to go back and think about it with a calmer head. As they say before making any tough, important or significant decision walk away from it for a while or sleep over it. This exercise helps people to look at the idea / initiatives more objectively and prepare to ask questions that may not be asked in the haste of building something new.

This exercise also let people think of any extended relationships the initiatives may be having which were not imagined before.

This article was first published on my Project Management Dialogues blog.

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