BY TONY MAURO
Iwas recently on a run listening to one of my favorite live albums, “Alive,” by Daft Punk. However, this time I found myself not just listening to the music,
but listening to how the crowd responded, the transitions
between songs, and timing of the drops and crescendos.
My mind then started wandering to my work, and I began
thinking about the project that I am leading.
Although I would argue that my project isn’t quite
as entertaining as a rock concert, I found myself drawing the correlation between the two, and realizing that
while partnering with a client, we are putting on an incredible show. It is a large project, spanning a number
of months, with numerous stakeholders, and I have to
help the “artists” keep the energy going, so that when
they go-live, the client is given a standing ovation and
asked for an encore.
We commonly use music terms in the workplace,
such as orchestrate, rhythm, harmony, and tempo.
But unlike studio singles that are remastered and
perfected, leading a major project is like putting on
a live concert. No concert is the same, and the artists
have to adapt, deal with the elements, and make sure
they don’t lose the crowd. On your project you have
to make adjustments and improvise, while maintaining scope and keeping stakeholders engaged. Just as
with a production crew, you have to get the most out
of your resources.
YOUR PROJECT KICKOFF
The first song at a show is always exciting and brings the crowd from a state
of relaxation to their feet. Your project
kickoff meetings and milestone reviews
are similar—you need to bring up the
energy, get the team excited, and set the
tone. If you don’t generate the excitement up front, your team could head for
the exits before you get to any of the big
hits. Think about the songs that are used
at sporting events to get the crowd going
between plays or before the puck drops.
They have some oomph!
To launch a project successfully, you need to have
the right people invited and ensure everyone understands WHY the team is going to tackle the project and
their role in its success. Just like the band on stage, you
can’t have four lead singers, lead guitarists, or drummers on your project.
The executive sponsor should be there to fulfill his
or her role of showing unwavering support, as well
as explaining the relationship between the project and
the corporate strategy. Take the time to ensure each
person at the kickoff understands how they are going
to contribute throughout the entire project. Kickoffs
work best at an off-site location, somewhere fresh to
get your participants outside of their comfort zone and
the grind of the typical business day. Show that the
project will be exciting and that the team should be
proud of being a part of it.
Have you ever been to a concert where the crowd
was not engaged? In business, we call this not being
aligned with expectations.
I recently heard about a John Mayer show, where he
was ripping it up on guitar, and some people said it was
unbelievable—but my friend who attended the concert
expected to sing along with the songs she knew. Similarly, allowing for team participation in business situations is key to a project’s success. Make sure your team
and stakeholders are clear on the project goals and what