PLAY Introduction

A kick-off meeting is more than just a start, it is when the team rallies around a plan and aligns on the end goal. Use this play to hype up energy in the team or just to start things off right. If you want to win, you got to kick-off things in a big way!


2-10 depending on the size of the team. If it becomes larger than 10 people consider breaking out into smaller groups.


30-60 Minutes. No one wants to be in a meeting longer than needed. Try to keep it short and sweet.


Novice to Master. Anyone can facilitate a successful kick-off meeting!




This is key to successful meetings. Make sure all key stakeholders are on the invite, the decision makers and those funding the project. You need their buy-in from the start!


Virtually or in-person it is critical that everyone has face-time with each other. So make sure that if attending virtually that everyone can connect in video chat. You will also need to share ideas, so a whiteboard is important and a space that fosters creativity and innovation. 



All of our plays are five steps or less! However, you may need to run multiple plays to get the most out of this one. Don’t worry – you can do it! Learn the play, rehearse it regularly, apply it in the field and debrief on the outcomes. If it worked well, use it again; if it didn’t, find out why. Are there new factors in the system you need to consider, or do you just need to keep practicing? If you need help or have questions on this play, contact us!



Who are the players?

Every winning team knows which players to have on the field and what talent you need on the ready. To successfully deploy this play you will need the following roster:

Meeting Facilitator: Likely this is you! But you don’t have to do it alone, ask a friend (think of it like a football team that has a coach for different parts of the team). Skills needed:

  • Keep the team focused on the goal!
  • Foster a positive and creative space for all
  • Organized and prepared to run play

Sponsor: This must be someone who has skin in the game. In sports this would be the team owner, someone who has an investment in seeing the team win. In business this is typically a project sponsor or product owner who charters the project. Skills needed:

  • Authority to fund the project and team
  • Engaged in outcomes and supporting the team
  • Biggest supporter in the stands

 Project Manager: Project managers play the lead role in planning, executing, monitoring, controlling and closing projects. They are accountable for the entire project scope, project team, resources, and the success or failure of the project. Effective project managers need more than technical know-how. The role also requires a number of non-technical skills, and it is these softer skills that often determine whether a project manager — and the project — will be a success. Skills needed:

  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Scheduling
  • Risk Management
  • Cost Management
  • Negotiating
  • Critical Thinking
  • Task Management
  • Quality Management
  • Sense of Humor

Stakeholders: Key members of the team who can help drive direction of the final product. This can be internal or external players. They might have a specialized skill set but they are interested in being part of the winning team. For the initial meeting this does not need to include the entire team, but be sure that each group has representation. Skills needed:

  • Vested interest in the outcome
  • Commitment to seeing it through completion (no fair weather fans)
  • Engaged and believes the team can win!
Get the field ready!

Schedule the meeting in advance. Don’t wait until the last minute to schedule the meeting. You want people to be excited about it but not so last minute that they have no time to prepare.

Include an agenda. Set expectations – this will help keep your meeting on track. Include schedule and any prep work needed. Also let them know if it is okay to invite others or not. Remember that if you have to many people in the meeting, it will be difficult to facilitate brainstorming sessions without breaking out into smaller groups.

Prep the room. Arrive early and get ready. If it is in a physical room, get whiteboards ready, enough chairs for everyone, water and snacks are always a hit! If virtually, a central location for notes, brainstorms and follow-up items. Test connectivity in the meeting room and make sure there is enough seats for all participants.




Teams must be great at working together to win. Even if your team knows each other, it is important to spend time understanding how they will work together on this project. If this team is newly formed, you may want to run a couple of ice-breaker activities from step three to get conversation going.

  • Start by introducing yourself, and your role on the team:
    • Who you are in the organization and how long you have been in this role
    • What specialty skills/knowledge you bring to the group
    • Why you are interested in this project 
  • Move around the group and have each person introduce themselves answering the same three questions
  • Record the team’s contact information and preferred method of contact (to save time this can be done ahead of the meeting) 

Winning teams all have a shared understanding of success from the beginning. This step is often overlooked or assumed everyone knows. Don’t assume! Take the time to make sure it is a shared alignment.

  • Have the Sponsor give a brief overview of the project and what they hope to achieve. This should be no more than a 5-10 minute pitch. If it is unclear on what the purpose is, you may want to run the elevator pitch activity below from step three to get ideas solidified.
  • Next, have all the team write a single sentence to describe the goal of the project. Yes, just one sentence (no cheating with a long run-on sentence)! Good goals are SMART:
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Achievable
    • Relevant
    • Time-sensitive
  • Go around the table having each team member share their sentence, this should be quick, as this is not a time to debate any response. You want everyone to feel comfortable sharing their ideas.
  • Collect responses and group together ideas that are similar. Take a vote on which statement most accurately describes the project objective. Collect top 3 ideas.
  • Have the Sponsor make the final vote and any modifications needed. Review with the team to ensure that everyone has the same understanding of what the goal of the project is – and note in documentation repository as project mission statement.

Now that your team understands what the objective is, it is time to define what key results you need to make sure you are on the path to success. In project terms these are often called milestones. They deliver a specific value to the business. 

  • Each milestone should be independent of the other milestones. Meaning, the team has no dependency on any other part for delivering their piece. Milestones may be related or connected to other milestones, such as a front-end application and a back-end database, but each piece can be delivered independently.
  • A Key Result is a measurable outcome required to achieve the Objective. It contains a metric with a start and target value. Key Results measure progress towards the Objective — like a signpost that shows how close you are to your Objective.
  • Transfer the objective (project mission statement) to a whiteboard that the team can collaborate around. Ask the team to answer the question, “How do I know if I am getting there?” 
  • Collect agreed upon milestones/key results and add to project documentation. Don’t worry about identifying everything at this point, just a general idea is all that is needed.

Need some inspiration? Check out examples of Project OKRs from Workpath.com



Time to run the Team Huddle play. Ask the team the following questions and then take a vote. Keep follow-up questions to a minimum and capture any issues raised as an offline follow-up (and be sure to follow-up).

Understand the play?

The play was understood and I asked any questions in time!

I’m not sure I understand and I have some questions …

I did not understand the play or my part in it.


Did you get in the game?

Yes, I made my moves and was in the right place at the right time!

I’m not sure I understand what I was supposed to do …

I kept the bench warm and watched from the sidelines.


Ready for what’s next?

Yes, I know the game plan and ready to win!

I’m not sure what’s next or if I am involved …

No clue what’s next and would rather sit it out.



Phew! The hard part is done! You might be tempted to go further and discuss what tasks are needed to achieve each milestone – but don’t! Instead congratulate the team on a very successful and productive first meeting!


Schedule the next meeting where the team will take the next steps in identifying the tasks needed to meet the key results (start building of a project plan). Set a regularly reoccurring meeting cadence so that the team stays engaged and is front of mind.  

Publish your notes in a central repository that the team has access to immediately. Even better if it is someplace that the team can add comments or collaborate on. Keep the creative chat going! 



You did it! Now just a few follow-up items:

  • Reflect on the play. Ask yourself how it went? What could have gone better, what could have gone worse? In sports this is watching the game again to see any plays that could have been better. Update your playbook. Build feedback loops that help you see what’s working; what’s not; and how to continue to develop the playbook by learning, adapting and iterating constantly as situations change and new challenges arise.
  • Contribute to the community of Playbook.Ninja. Sign-up for an account and receive updates on when new plays are added and help others by commenting on the plays with what worked or your experience.

Thank you for being a Playbook.Ninja


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