Projects typically begin by bringing the team together in a meeting and introducing them to the scope and details of the project. With the yeww project, much of this went on in my own mind.
Developing Team Collaboration
Part of the purpose of the project launch meeting is to give the team an overview of the details of the project. It should identify the project goals and roadmap to achieving them so that there is no misunderstanding by any team member with regard to their duties.
At the same time it allows the team leader to develop positive attitudes within the team towards the project and team collaboration, in general.
This meeting should also be a forum for asking the tough question, as it’s better to face these questions early in the process. Project leaders need to become tuned to hearing the difference between an attitude problem and a significant technical challenge.
In “The Agile Samurai”, Jonathan Rasmusson describes a device, called the “inception deck”, used at the start of a project to help the team come to a better understanding of the project. It’s meant to be done in the context of a participatory brainstorming session that includes anyone with a stake or part in the development or ownership of the product. If I understand Rasmusson correctly, the participants create “art” which expresses their attuned understanding of the project in a form to which they can refer back to refocus their intentions.
It includes 10 points, most of which I confirm are valuable to consider.
- Ask “why are we here”. What is the purpose of this project?
- Create a thirty second elevator pitch for the product the project is creating.
- Design a product box for the product being created.
- Create a not list. What is not included in this project.
- Meet our neighbors (on the project). Socialize with them.
- Show the solution. A high-level design of the architecture.
- Ask “what’s the scariest part of the plan?”
- Size it up. Three months, shorter or longer?
- Choose priorities. Know in advance what will be compromised if time starts running out.
- Show what it’s going to take. Time, money, resources. Best guess.
The Key to Project Success
The greatest single factor determining the success of your project is the mindset of each team member as the project begins. The team leader wants a team that understands the what, how and why of the features they are developing and are fired up, ready to follow their leader into battle.
The team leader must create this mindset in the team and the launch meeting is the time to begin. The key to success for the project is a team leader who understands that the purpose of the launch meeting is to
- Give the team a technical understanding of the project
- Give the team ownership of the product they are creating – encourage them to identify with the features they are developing
- Give the critics an opportunity to be heard, diplomatically assuage the whiners, and listen for the one who sees a valid technical challenge for which you have no answer.
Not every project can be successful with the available tools and talent. Recognize impossible expectations and learn not to go into battles you are doomed to lose. Team leaders going into battle must properly arm their warriors and put them into the proper fighting mood. The techniques aren’t important, the effect is. Whip your team members into a frenzy, a fervor, ready to go attack the enemy (everything getting in their way of developing perfection).
Yeww's Inception (Launch) Meeting
As I said, most of this went on in my head, since I’m currently the only stake holder and developer in Yeww.
I did create a landing page, a task that involved selecting a color palette with Adobe Kuler, then using Paintstrap to create a Bootstrapped version of my palette across the major page elements. Then I used a theme from StartBootstrap that gave me the look I wanted in a responsive theme that I could easily edit. After that I hosted it at Godaddy, where I already host this site, and am allowed unlimited sites (of which I only use 10 so far), so it didn’t cost me anything other than a domain registration fee ($1.99 first year, $7.99 thereafter).
All of us here on the team are pumped. Psyched, man! Yeww-hoo, let’s get this thing going.