Thoughts About Project Gate Review Meetings

Gate Review Meetings

I use Gate Review Meetings (GRM) in my approaches to my consulting work. This is a formal get together of the Customer-side and the Supplier-side key folks in an improvement endeavor. The GRMs provide a “Read-Out” to the Customer-side of what’s happened and been produced since the last GRM. And then it facilitates any Q&A Session requirements for the benefit of the Customer-side first, and the Supplier-side second.

And in my typical fashion, I plan for the coordination of, the preparation for, and the conduct of – these GRMs. And then there is the inevitable, so plan for it it, follow up.

BTW- Gate Review Meetings are also known by other labels, such as: Milestone Reviews. And there are many, many other names. Call them something appropriate – something that communicates deliberately but doesn’t miss-communicate inadvertently. Hint: Market-test your labels to some extent before going public with them. 

Here are two PACT ISD methodologies “stacked/ordered” – but look at the Traffic Lights in the Graphic…those are the GRMs at the end of certain – but not all – Phases – in PACT. GRMs end each Phase in Curriculum Architecture Design (CAD) – and in 4 of 6 Phases in Modular Curriculum Development/Acquisition (MCD)…

Again, it’s a forum for the Supplier-side to ask any questions, get any particular Decision made – or at least “put on the table” in a Project Timely manner. It brings the Client along the journey. When you are doing something inherently complex, it’s not good for key players to be in the dark, to not understand (or have participated) in making the many somewhat arbitrary decisions that need to be made in a project.

And I’ve found that it’s those Arbitrary Decisions – that can trip you up after being decided. Because there is no obvious “right answer” – and many answers are equally good, or bad, or both – but weight out somewhat equal. So someone coming to the party late can second-guess any and all of those Arbitrary Decisions – because the final Decision could have easily gone another way.

That’s also why it’s always best to figure out who might come along, out of the woodwork so-to-speak, and “take exception” to anything about the project. That’s who you work hard to involve “from Day 1” in order to minimize if not eliminate any of that.

If you’ve ever been burned from that – you’ve probably learned from that.

And taken steps to mitigate that in the future.

The GRM Symbol is An Upside-Down Traffic Light

I use a familiar Traffic Light image for a Gate Review Meeting (GRM) – but turn it upside down. It’s not A Stop Light symbol that I wanted to communicate, but a Go Light image. A formal meeting to formally make decisions on predictable items in a “project timely” manner.

One thing I typically tell the people in the GRM process is that by the end of the meeting they will have faced many planned and some surprise Decisions and come to one of four decisions about these process and content “sign-offs” –

  1. Kill the Effort – as it no longer makes business sense
  2. Defer the Effort – as it is now untimely due to other Efforts
  3. Change the Effort – as it is no longer deemed appropriate, effective or efficient
  4. Support the Effort – and fully resource the next Phase

Visuals – Wall Posters

I use visuals and text to try to help and connect “all of us in the Effort” – to what we are doing and creating. So I project things on walls, hand out personal copies – and – I post large Wall Charts.

Hollywood Movie type wall posters. For marketing purposes. For marketing to the GRM participants.

Image seeing something like this below – relevant to your process focus/foci – right over the coffee and refreshment/nourishment table – where you could get a good look at everything on the Poster…in a Scan I call a Sniff-Test…

Click on to enlarge

You’d probably scan the boxes on the Path in sequence, checking out the titles, the method for delivery, and the length of each in hours or days. You’d be applying the Sniff Test. It’s a Personal thing. It can be predicated only so far. Checking for reasonable-ness, checking for anything smelling fishy. But the individual Sniff-Tester will apply their own “tests” – based on their learnings based on their burnings. That’s typically where the burning hot buttons come from. Past experience and a desire to avoid that again.

Enabling the Sniff Test – that’s why I like Truth-in-Titling. For that Scan/Sniff-Test. No cute names of Events (in the architectural language of my PACT Processes) and- except maybe at the sub-Title level – if we have to.

An Event and it’s Modules/Lessons are titled for the benefit of the Learners and Their Management. It’s – the Lessons or Events – are titled to be a “How To XYZ” developing designated Skills – or it’s a knowledge-creating piece on “XYZ” – or it’s an Orientation/Overview, a “O/O XYZ” that creates a level of Awareness, but not deeper Knowledge. 3 levels of depth for three types of Content – in the PACT approach to Curriculum Architecture, Learning Architecture, etc. In an architectural approach to curricula and performance support – you need enough defined structure that is appropriately flexible too.

Give the Client enough detail – and the ability to Scan and Sniff-Test a some higher level, sometimes referred to as the 50,000 foot level. Determine what you key Customers and Stakeholders like – in terms of detail and perspective – and give it to them.

Adjust your Learning Architectural views accordingly. Adjust your methods, tools and techniques. Accordingly.

This – the Processes, methods, tools, techniques, etc.,  is covered in many other writings available on my web site – see the Resources Tab – and in this book 6-Pack…

Again, check out the Resources Tab.

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