There’s a saying that no battle plan survives the first encounter with the enemy and in the parlance of projects, many of us would agree that early project plans rarely resemble the finished deliverables. However, knowing how to effectively initiate projects is one of the critical elements to enabling a team to adapt along the way.

If there was an inspiring experience many of us joined in celebrating, it was the Australian women’s soccer team achieving something remarkable in their journey towards the World Cup. They wowed fans and non-fans alike with their amazing run to the quarter-finals.

A deeper look at the goodwill they fostered among Australians who watched their progress in local parks and community venues and championed their success shows why. The Matildas demonstrated an incredible example of teamwork, trust, setting aside ego for a common goal, and the fundamental ability to adapt.

Undoubtedly it was not the plan to have the star player injured in training in the first week, and whilst some may have expected superstars like Sam Kerr to immediately take back her key position after being cleared of injury, she played from the bench for several games.  The team adapted, putting those with the required capability sets in the right place at the right time, no doubt with knowledge of the opposition’s strengths and weaknesses.  They ran hard towards success and had the backs of their teammates and the support of their coach, respecting his decisions to enable his players to work to their strengths.

So why have we celebrated them so much as a team and what does it tell us about project delivery?

The Power of Teamwork: Lessons from the Matildas

A champion project team is more than just a collection of individual champions; it is a cohesive unit working towards a common goal.

In a champion team, players agree on a plan of attack and trust each other’s abilities. They understand the team’s formation, rhythms, and patterns of play, allowing them to work together seamlessly.  This level of trust enables players to make accurate passes without looking, confident that their teammates will be in the right positions.

Effective project teams can operate similarly. They can foster trust, collaboration, and effective communication by displaying their status as an A-Team and working towards a shared goal.  When team members clearly understand each other’s roles and responsibilities, they can work together harmoniously, leveraging their individual expertise to drive project success.

A cohesive and collaborative project team is more powerful than a group of individual champions. By fostering trust and working towards a common goal, project teams can navigate challenges, leverage their collective expertise, and maximise the chances of project success.

Teamwork doesn’t include an ‘I’

Effective teams are aligned to the goals of a whole team and have a willingness to sacrifice personal interest for the greater good. The evidence suggests that’s what it takes to succeed both as a team and individually.

Teamwork is perhaps the most essential component that contributes to good projects, and during initiation, the setup can be make or break. One of the quickest ways to throw sand in the gears of any project is embarking on a project with a group of individuals motivated by different agendas.

The critical first steps of a project should aim to provide a roadmap for the team and stakeholders, ensuring everyone is aligned and working towards a common goal. By establishing a well-thought-out plan of attack, organisations can enable teams to effectively navigate the complexities of project delivery and increase the likelihood of success.

Key elements of successful initiation

Investing time and effort in clearly defining the project’s objectives, scope, and desired outcomes is crucial.  After all, how can everyone be on the same page with the goals and purpose if it cannot be easily articulated and people have had the time to apply critical thinking and develop a mutual and deep understanding.

Successful project initiation requires careful consideration of several key elements.

  1. Clarity around Strategy, Outcomes, and Approach: Before diving into project execution, it is essential to establish a clear understanding of the organisation’s strategy, desired outcomes, and preferred approach. This clarity allows teams to align their efforts with the overarching goals of the project and make informed decisions throughout the process.
  2. Effective Leadership and Team Composition: Building the right team is crucial for project success. It involves identifying individuals with the necessary expertise and capabilities, as well as fostering a collaborative and cohesive work environment. The project leader plays a vital role in setting the team’s direction, providing guidance, and facilitating effective communication.
  3. Robust Project Management Methodology: A project management methodology and standard provide a structured framework for project initiation and defines processes, tools, and techniques that can be tailored to suit the specific project’s needs. It ensures consistency, accountability, and efficient resource allocation, and should be an consolidation of all learned experience the organisation has on past projects.
  4. Clear Objectives and Outcome Measures: Clearly defining project objectives and outcome measures is essential for monitoring progress and ensuring alignment with organisational goals. Measurable and realistic objectives allow teams to track their performance, make necessary adjustments, and demonstrate project success to stakeholders.
  5. Effective Stakeholder Engagement: Engaging stakeholders early in the project initiation phase helps build trust, manage expectations, and gain their support throughout the project lifecycle. Regular communication, active listening, and addressing stakeholders’ concerns play a vital role in maintaining positive relationships and minimizing potential roadblocks.

Good Project Initiation Lays the Groundwork for Success

Good project initiation is the cornerstone of successful project delivery. By focusing on key elements such as clarity around strategy, outcomes, and approach, effective leadership and team composition, robust project management methodologies, clear objectives and outcome measures, and stakeholder engagement, organisations can set themselves up for project success.

As project specialists, we enable organisations through project delivery, project assurance, and project capability.  Contact us here to find out more about how we work with your teams or call 180 841 048.

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Quay Consulting
Quay Consulting is a professional services business specialising in the project landscape, transforming strategy into fit-for-purpose delivery. Meet our team ...