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Dating : Wasting time to save time — The project kick-off meeting

h2>Dating : Wasting time to save time — The project kick-off meeting

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Oko the leader of the Akaeze age-grade watched as members trickled in one after the other for the village barn renovation kick-off meeting. While waiting for more members to come in, he takes time to reflect on the task ahead.

Within the past two weeks, since the council of elders gave Akaeze age-grade the mandate to renovate the village barn, Oko and his team have put a lot, into coming up with a workable plan; series of meetings at times lasting into the night, sourcing for materials, identifying a suitable forest close to the barn site with sufficient bamboos, etc. As part of the plan, the age-grade members were divided into to four major groups each with clearly defined responsibilities. Only three days ago they got the approval of the council of elders with some large chunks of dried meat and 6 kegs of palm wine.

Amidst the exchange of greeting as more members trooped in, He could hear the noise from the great Eke market.

“As early as this time of the day” he wondered aloud to himself. He remembered the story his mother told him, how, many years ago a newly crowned king attempted to stop the market for the burial of his father “the late King” and how it leads to a revolt and eventually punishment from the village deity.

“Even the gods cannot stop Eke market” her mother will always tell him. He smiled, as he reflects over her mother’s story.

“That is many years ago” he said aloud to himself quickly switching his focus from the story to the task ahead.

The shout of “Ogidiga” announcing the arrival of Tamgbo the village wrestler, brought Oko’s attention back to the gathering. He wonders if this kick-off meeting is not a waste of time.

“No ooh” he quickly told himself

“I can’t afford to take that kind of chance” he said aloud to himself, he recalled that there is time for everything, and everything cannot happen at the same, and that is why the elders says;

“If the day of harvesting or eating yams is the same as the day of planting yams; even goats will not be allowed to eat the yam peels”

So let do first thing first and not be in a hurry, he tapped Okoro on his shoulder and said,

“Hope you know, ‘To run is not necessarily to arrive”

“Yes my brother” Okoro answered

He took three steps closer to the gathering and yelled “Akaeze greeting”

“Yeah” they all chorused, Oko waited for some time to allow the chorused answer to die down, and for the team members to adjust themselves from their various caucus meetings.

He then took his time to review the plan again with the team. He was about to declare the kick-off meeting closed, when Emeka cut him shut by raising up his hand and talking at the same time.

“Please I slept on my right hand in the night and I cannot possibly do much with my right hand today”- he said

“Meaning you will not be working in your group” Oko asked him

“Yes”

“Do you realized you are the leader of that group” Oko asked Emeka with a kind of “what should we do” look toward the direction of the leadership team. Emeka not only exhibits strong assertive and leadership skills, he is a hunter and knows the terrain of the Okon forest more than every other person. Hence he was selected as the leader of group A. he is the best person that can guide the team right; to know where to cut bamboo and where not to.

Oko excused the team to enable him consult with the age-grade leadership team and find a solution. As he rightly thought they all agreed that Emeka not leading group A will impact negatively on the timeline, and hence the only solution is to allow him lead the group, after all he may not be able to do much in any of the other groups.

“The deliverables of group A are critical to the project… “Said Okoro

“I know, Okoro. I am just wondering why we are having this disappointment with the most critical Group” Oko cut in

“Don’t worry Oko, thank God the issues came up during this kick-off meeting and not at the site… it would have been too late to deal with then” continued Okoro

“The battle a man is aware of, cannot kill his son. Let look for a solution” Okoro continued.

“This is my suggestion, we should retained Emeka as the leader of Group A while we pull one person each from the remaining three Groups to assist them” Okoro concluded

“Do you all agree” Oko quickly asked, for him time is not on their side, since the sun will be too hot in the afternoon”

“Yes” they all chorused

“Akaeze greeting” Oko yelled turning his attention quickly to the gathering of able body men, as usual he allowed some time for the chorused “yeah” to die down before he announced the adjusted plan of work to the group.

With the group chorused “yes” approval to the adjusted plan, Oko breathed a sigh of relief and nod his head reflecting on the saying of the elders;

“A good beginning is a halfway a battle won”

How do you manage your project?

Do you create time and opportunity for a kick-off meeting to review plan or you feel it is a waste of time? The lack of discipline and governance to hold kick-off meeting could plant some irritating “thorn in the flesh of your project” that could inflict some great pain in your project delivery. Under this circumstance you will become reactive (of course the project is too heated up that you don’t have a choice) and this is where high value leakage occurs;

Minor delays and hiccups that could aggregate into major delays and problems respectively, which could cause your team emotional drain

Take a pause and learn from the African elders; wise men that had mastered the art of project management, long before we were born.

And so what is next?

· For Project Manager- Be disciplined enough to resist the urge to start a project immediately without a kick-off meeting, it could prevent “thorns” from sticking to your project flesh. Who knows, an Emeka in your vendor team could have slept on his right hand a night before the project start.

· For Organizations — Let the practice of holding kick-off meetings be part of your organization delivery methodology, it could help to retained as much of the Net Present Value (NPV) of the project as planned

Always being in a hurry does not prevent death; neither does going slowly prevent living

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