This post represents my own reflections on Diana Larsen’s book “Liftoff: Launching Agile Teams & Projects“.

Project chartering is well established project management practice. However, the stress in agile chartering is on the collaborative and carefully designed activities to create the charter. Project chartering is part of project liftoff.

A successful project liftoff can set it on the right orbit required to arrive at its destination. It is not a guarantee of success, however, it is a proactive risk mitigation to propel the project on the right orbit. Skipping the liftoff is a recipe for failure .

Liftoff is a session which should be carefully planned for to:

  1. Estimate required time for Liftoff session, participants, agenda, logistics.
  2. Distribute materials before the liftoff session.
  3. The pre work session is a group activity that is led by the product owner/sponsor to vet project idea, arrive at project purpose, estimate the budget, identify the product owner and enforce sponsor commitment.

The liftoff session to be successful must serve to:

  1. Create strong sense of ownership among participants on its outcomes.
  2. Sponsor demonstrates his commitment to the project.
  3. The session should be based on activities but those activities should be well designed to serve real world purpose of the project.
  4. Create charter for every team involved in the project.

Liftoff session activities can include retrospective to reconcile the team by having shared understanding on what happened in previous phases of the project or in other projects.

Liftoff can be used to improve the situation of existing projects. I see real world examples of canceled projects because of not meeting anticipated benefits. Those projects were set to navigate in wrong orbit. The project community who interacts directly with such failed projects concluded that the project is taking them to no where or to a destination they did not want.

An outcome of project liftoff is  the charter which should serve to have all project team and community agree on purpose, have alignment needed to achieve the purpose, and provide shared understanding on the context and boundaries of the project.

Chartering is a collaborative endeavor that focuses on the whole system and the interdependencies among all people involved in the project. Charter undergoes continuous improvement throughout the project, therefore, our aim in chartering session is to have a Good Enough For Now (GEFN) version of  the charter.