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Context: you are starting or restarting an endeavor. Key participants hold different expectations, come from various backgrounds, struggle to collaborate, and it is unclear if all constraints, means, and skills are met to start.

Plan for a Successful Liftoff

Maybe merge with team charter.

  • to launch agile teams toward success;
  • to launch a team with attention and intention;
  • to charter an agile team just-enough.

Een goed begin is het halve werk. A liftoff at the start or restart of the work confers the longest-term benefit.

An effective liftoff:

  • implies motion and momentum;
  • accelerates the leap into the work;
  • achieves alignment—a shared understanding about the work and why it exists;
  • unites—brings key stakeholders and core team members together;
  • clarifies roles by developing working relationships among stake- holders, product development, core team members, and business sponsors;
  • outlines the context for the work and why it matters to the organization as a whole; and
  • positions your team on the trajectory to success;
  • defines the
    • initial intentions;
    • approach; and
    • plans; and to
  • begin team building;
  • offers helpful information and collaborative experiences;
  • helps everyone learn, think, and make decisions about the work together
  • provides a critical link to support, perspectives, and resources through the team charter.

A liftoff is a (series of) meeting(s) where everyone who are in—those that have a primary stake—start a new endeavor.

You have to slow down to speed up, so take the time to learn about the purpose and nature at the start of a new journey to begin well.

A well-timed liftoff adds energy, and a premature liftoff drains energy, so make sure you are ready for liftoff:

  • You have a committed sponsor and identified product manager.
  • You can you articulate the business case.
  • Funding and budgets to start the effort have been allocated, that is, you have money in the bank.
  • You have a clear intention at least to levels up for what you want to to accomplish?

Three to five broad, deep and cross people who are in cocreate the plan for the liftoff. In fact, organize the planning meeting according to don’t just do something, stand there!.

Guiding Questions

  • What did you learn from the retrospectives on previous liftoffs?
  • What will create the best starting point for everyone involved?
  • Is this a single-team product or service, a single-team project, or a multi-team program or initiative?
  • What is needed to start well?
  • Whose support is essential to the success?
  • Which key stakeholders should we invite?
  • How much of the liftoff will the executives and sponsors attend?
  • What new skills are needed?
  • What new knowledge is essential?
  • Where do we anticipate challenges in communication and information flow?
  • How can we begin to address any identified impediments?
  • Have we identified all the right team members for cross-functional work?
  • What are the known issues or constraints?
  • What are the known unknowns?
  • What tone do we want to set?
  • Is it likely that ?
  • How will we adapt our plan when new information or ideas emerge during the liftoff?
  • How will we continue to improve our liftoffs?

We have liftoff!

You are done with the liftoff when:

  • The sponsor, product manager, and core team have:
    • committed to a common purpose;
    • shared an initial understanding of success;
  • The core team:
    • agrees on an initial approach to work, including agreements on work behaviors;
    • has discussed its members’ interdependence, skills, and potential;
    • has enough initial understanding of business needs to begin the work;
  • The sponsor:
    • recommits to invest in the work.

Outside Facilitator

Recruit an outside facilitator. Give your liftoff the greatest chance at success. Recruit a facilitator who’s perceived as neutral by participants. Someone with strong facilitation skills will attend to the process, not the content. The facilitator will give valuable help to plan the flow; keep meetings on track and attend to any interpersonal dynamics that arise; and lead group activities such as chartering, retrospectives, and open space.

Having an outside facilitator allows the planners and team to focus on participating. Find someone with facilitation experience to match the complexity of the work. The more complex the work, the more you’ll want an experienced facilitator

Roles & Responsibilities

  • outside facilitator
    • Coordinates with planning group, product manager, and sponsor to prepare for the liftoff
    • Keeps the meeting on track
    • Attends to any interpersonal dynamics that arise
    • Facilitates group activities
  • Product manager
    • Works with the sponsor, visionaries, and other business decision makers to thoroughly explore and understand the business case
    • Recruits or assigns core team members for the work (following the practices of the organization for assembling teams)
    • Coordinates with planning group to identify stakeholders
    • Coordinates with planning group to prepare for the session, including arranging logistics and identifying and distributing any prework
    • Invites the participants: sponsor, core team, primary stakeholders
    • Convenes the session
  • Sponsor
    • Works with the product manager to thoroughly explore and understand the business case
    • Attends and introduces the liftoff, welcomes participants
    • Publicly confers day-to-day work-related decision-making authority to the product manager
    • Attends the closing to hear and appreciate the liftoff results
  • Coach
    • Models the collaborative, focused behaviors desired from team members
    • Might coordinate the liftoff
  • Core team
    • Completes prework
    • Attends the liftoff and contributes
  • Trainer(s)
    • Leads skills-training sessions as needed on new technologies, agile practices, domain information, etc.

Healthy Working Conditions

Make sure you have a healthy space for your liftoff—use the environment explicitly to advance the liftoff’s goals.