The Project Context Workshop is a great kickoff exercise to get the project owners and the project team to agree on goals and scope. We learned this approach from Agency Agile.
A project context session helps to:
- Uncover important information from past communication
- Initiate conversations that need to happen
- Create an easy-to-remember visual from conversations
- Increase project team engagement and ownership
- Build team rapport
What you need:
- Poster-sized sheets, adhesive-backed or just use tape
- Fat markers
You can run this as a virtual workshop with your favorite online whiteboard tool too.
Project Context Steps:
- Put 7 posters on the wall and label one for each of these categories: Business Context, Purpose & Goals, Critical Behaviors, Platform & Approach, Doneness, Risks, Open Issues
- Choose someone to facilitate as you talk about each poster.
- Have team members take turns being the “scribe” who writes on the poster to capture what’s being said. Before the scribe write anything down, they repeat it back to the group to get confirmation that everyone agrees.
- Ask the following questions to fill out each poster:
- What’s going on with the organization that should inform this project? (e.g., strategic plans, new products, competitors, challenges)
- Why does this project exist? (new/unmet needs, etc.)
- What projects and initiatives is this related to?
- Who are the stakeholders?
Purpose & Goals
- How will things change as a result of this project’s success?
- What things does this project need to accomplish or enable for the business? (Metrics, Organizational Goals)
- What does this project mean to the stakeholders?
- For this project to succeed, how must we act and behave?
Platform & Approach
- What solutions or technologies will we use?
- How does this project need to be run?
- Are there any risks?
- Is there anything we know about that could put the project at risk?
- What does it look like when we are finished – how can we tell?
- Are there an open issues?
- Is there anything for which we need to pursue further answers?
If you can keep the project context posters in a shared space (or readily accessible online), they’re a helpful reminder to the team. You can also use them to walk other stakeholders through your understanding of the project.
We often distill these insights into a one-page Project Strategy Blueprint.