Introduction to Collaborative Chartering
In this journal, we recently covered the importance of Discovery Recaps and how we use War Rooms as evolving mosaics documenting our exploration and knowledge creation during client engagements. These types of deliverables and processes represent a fraction of the intense, smart and meaningful work we create in our commitment to our clients.
Another key step that often initiates our process is the collaborative chartering workshop. This method enables us to start sharing ideas and build common understanding early in a project’s lifecycle. Remember too that collaborative chartering does not exclusively belong to a certain kind of methodology (ie: waterfall, agile, etc.), it can belong to any of these approaches.
Each new client represents a unique mix of variables across its business, stakeholders and familiarity with collaboration. When we host our client kickoff meetings to connect and uncover relevant information about the project, collaborative chartering helps us navigate and leverage those unique qualities to set a course for the project’s success.
When we create a collaborative charter, the intended outcome is to set a shared vision, goals, acknowledge potential project risks, and use the process to facilitate early relationship building with our clients.
How Handsome Uses Collaborative Chartering
To get a new engagement started, our clients join us for an interactive workshop in which we constructively communicate thoughts, ideas, and opinions, write them down, and map them out to quickly start building understanding. We organize into groups and distribute stacks of sticky notes. These freshly configured teams then write down their goals for the engagement and share their thoughts onto a project board with sticky notes, guided by a series of questions. The exercise allows every voice to be heard, and preliminary differences are identified early; agreements are highlighted, but so are variations of opinion. Addressing these differences at the outset establishes a clear understanding of the vision going forward, and helps build consensus early.
Through collaborative chartering, synthesis of the project’s vision begins right away; the filled out sticky notes become concrete, measurable goals to be included in the charter along with success criteria.
In addition to establishing a direction and goals for optimal productivity, collaborative chartering helps individuals get to know each other. We love to work with our clients instead of for them, so relationship building is key. A collaborative environment supports a willingness to communicate openly. The collective team learns the nuances of each party’s communication style, passions, expertise, vulnerabilities and concerns.
Speaking of concerns, many people balk at undertaking this vital ingredient of the chartering process. However, as Deanna, a Handsome Product Director points out, “It’s important to do some sort of exercise like this because, through experience, I know things happen. The more you can talk about it ahead of time, the less painful it will be. Be clear with everything up front. If you don’t talk, you’re just hiding dust bunnies under a rug; when you lift up the corner they will still be there, haunting [the project and holding back a high performing work team].”
Integrating our team with the client’s and fostering open, productive communication from the start not only helps us move forward with confidence, but allows us to maximize the value we deliver to our clients. As a result, we are able to set up our projects for success early.
If you would like to learn more about collaborative chartering, see examples, and discuss how our process can help your organization, then please get in touch or send us a tweet.