Bringing The Client & Stakeholders Along on Their Project’s Journey

Or – Command & Control & Empowerment

I’d been involved in Client Review Meetings going back to 1979 at Wickes Lumber when I first got into T&D/L&D – but when I joined Motorola in 1981 – an Engineering firm chock full of Engineers – I started learning a little bit about how Engineers thought about Projects – and Project Planning & Management.

So I started to Adopt and Adapt some of their Processes, and Practices, and Language.

Gate Review Meetings are but one example.

When I became a consultant in late 1982 after leaving Motorola I framed all of my projects as my partner, the late Ray Svenson did – by the Phase – and I started to call the end-of-phase review meetings – Gate Review Meetings – and I represented them in graphics as an Upside-Down Traffic Light – known in the USA sometimes as a Stop Light.

But what I wanted was a “GO” Light.

A conscious decision by the client and the key stakeholders to “GO” … or maybe not.

I would always kick off each PST GRM – the Project Steering Team Gate Review Meeting – with a reminder that they had 4 Options at the conclusion of each meeting – after I brought them up to date about our progress – and the data we had generated – a Project Plan, or the Analysis data, a Design, the Pilot Test Results, etc. – and they got an opportunity to probe into the data, approve it, or modify it , or delete it from what we would use going forward.

It was like film editing – sometimes there was more on the “cutting room floor” than made it into the final movie. Priorities based on perceived ROI. I was always in favor of that.

Those 4 Options at the end of the GRM that I had on the “almost last slide” – as I always used a “PowerPoint Deck” or a “Deck of Transparencies” before that – were to focus the discussion to reflect the Agenda and Goals – and that slide repeated the options I had at the meeting kick-off, which were:

  • Kill the Project – as it no longer made business sense*
  • Defer the Project – until some other activity on the Critical Path had completed
  • Modify the Plan – as we needed to adjust/adapt to some cause for us to do something other than what the original plan called for
  • Approve Continuation as Planned – and to help us/ensure that we had the resources (people and otherwise) that THEIR project required.

*Clients often reacted poorly when I led with this first option – but others cheered when they saw it. So sometimes a client might demand that I not lead with that – and reverse the order of the 4 options.

In that case – IMO – you always “salute the request” – and do as asked/demanded. As – he/she who pays the piper – calls the tune.

But there had been projects when members of the Project Steering Team noticed the change and asked that I go back to the original sequence of THEIR options.

Command & Control & Empowerment

I always saw these and used these Gate Review Meetings for “Command & Control & Empowerment” purposes – and would tell the PST that as well.

It gave them “Command & Control” – and it gave me “Empowerment” – especially when it came time to pry critical resources (mainly people and facilities) free for MY needs for THEIR project.

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2 comments on “Bringing The Client & Stakeholders Along on Their Project’s Journey

  1. Pingback: Old Made New – Tried and Tested Practices for Learning Pros | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

  2. Pingback: Command & Control & Empowerment | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

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