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Episode 442: Preparing Facilitated Project Planning Meetings (Premium)

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Rich and Jim
Rich Maltzman and Jim Stewart

Rich Maltzman (LinkedIn Profile) and Jim Stewart (LinkedIn Profile) are back on the program today to talk about Goblins… no… wait… [furiously checks notes]... Ahhh… no. Sorry. My fault. No goblins today.

Instead, the focus is on preparing a facilitated project planning meeting. We look at resolving any looming unaddressed issues before the meeting starts, how to make sure that the financial investment of a planning meeting actually pays off, and then Rich and Jim talk us through about 8 actionable activities they recommend you do in order to plan the meeting right. These tips are important to get the most out of your meeting so you come out of it with enough useful information to create a realistic project plan.

The interview is based on Chapter 8 : Preparing for the Facilitated Project Planning Meeting of their book How to Facilitate Productive Project Planning Meetings - A Practical Guide to Ensuring Project Success. Therefore, we close the discussion with the number one thing that each of them has personally learned about running a good project planning meeting while they were researching and writing the book… good stuff.

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Episode Transcript

Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

Podcast Introduction

Jim Stewart: In this episode of The Project Management Podcast™, we learn how to prepare for the facilitated project planning meeting.

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome back to The Project Management Podcast™ at www.pm-podcast.com. This is Premium Episode #442 and I am Cornelius Fichtner.

As always, Premium means that this interview is reserved for you, our Premium subscribers. So thank you for your financial support of The Project Management Podcast™.

Rich Maltzman and Jim Stewart are back on the program today to talk about goblins. Wait, checking my notes here. Ah, no, sorry! No goblins today. Instead, the focus is on preparing a facilitated project planning meeting. We look at resolving any looming unaddressed issues before the meeting starts, how to make sure that the financial investment of a planning meeting actually pays off. And then, Rich and Jim talk us through about eight actionable activities that they recommend that you do in order to plan the meeting right.

>We close the discussion with the number one thing that each of them has personally learned about running a good project planning meeting while they were researching and writing the book. It’s good stuff.

Enjoy the interview!

Podcast

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello, Rich! Welcome back!

Rich Maltzman: Good to be back!

Cornelius Fichtner: And also, Jim, welcome back to The Project Management Podcast™!

Rich Maltzman: Thank you, sir. Looking forward to the second one.

Cornelius Fichtner: In this interview, we are going to look at a second chapter from your book titled “How to Facilitate Productive Project Planning Meetings.” Jim, what is your interest in the topic and why write a book about it?

Jim Stewart: Well, I’m interested in the topic because I find that meetings aren’t necessarily well run. There’s a lot of things that cause them to fail. Because meetings are sort of the backbone of our projects. I find it important to know as much as I can and share that information with others.

Why write a book about it? Because I have a colleague who I used to teach for at one of the local colleges. I was writing about ideas for a book but then he said: “You know those big meetings you’re doing where you go to pharmaceuticals and the high-tech companies and plan, schedules, and stuff?” and I said: “Yeah!” He said: “I would read book about that.” Well he would then probably others like him would. So that’s when I engaged. Rich and I said: “Will you think about this idea?” And we wrote the book.

Cornelius Fichtner: Also, Jim, we’ve looked at Chapter Six in the first interview, the Zen of Facilitation. Now, we’re going to look at Chapter Eight: Preparing for the Facilitated Project Planning Meeting. That’s our final interview. Let’s see we were doing a third interview. Is there a third chapter in the book which you think is key to doing a good job in facilitating these meetings?

Jim Stewart: Yeah! I think and this is just my own opinion on this. I may toss up between “Chapter 16: Facilitating Leads in a Multicultural Environment,” or “Chapter 10: Facilitating a Virtual Meeting.” I will probably lean towards 10 because we have a whole chapter written by one of our colleagues and everybody meets virtually. We’re doing it right now. There’s an art to that. So I will lead towards virtual and possibly 16 the multicultural.

Cornelius Fichtner: And we are doing a virtual meeting in a sense here. I remember before we started, half an hour before this, there were a flurry of emails going back and forth just between the three of us trying to figure out, are we are going to do this audio, or video, or what. That was one of the things that we’ve actually forgot to talk about. And these kinds of things are important for virtual meetings.

Alright! Rich, Chapter 8 titled “Preparing for the Project Planning Meeting,” and it starts out like this in your book: “Before you plan and schedule your meeting, be sure that there aren’t any looming unaddressed issues that might crop up during the meeting.” How do we go about doing that if they are looming and unaddressed, and we may not even know about them?

Rich Maltzman: So this is really along the lines of a hidden canvas. There are going to be things that might pop up because people have just been waiting for this particular case when marketing is there to go after marketing, or some installation recently went poorly or some research project went poorly, and these people are here to talk about why that’s important for their department, kind of us versus them.

So here, it’s about stakeholders --- stakeholders, stakeholders, stakeholders like location, location, location, and real estate. So we think the best thing to do is to kind of be blunt. Talk to stakeholders beforehand, kind of schmooze. Find out what has been going on. Part of the fifth kind-of-an attribute of people. You need to be politically savvy. You need to understand the dynamics of what might be going on.

One of the tools for this that we actually have in the book is a 3D stakeholder matrix. Like most PMI things and I’ve been active in PMI so I can insult them a little bit in a nice, collegial way. One of the things PMI is really good at is making slap matrices --- two by twos, three by threes, triangles, but they are always two-dimensional.

The stakeholder matrix for example the Power/Interest Grid is absent of the attitude element. It’s power versus interest and doesn’t have any height, any depth. Think about attitude, so who’s in favor of this meeting? Who’s in favor of this project? And who might be a kind of a savior because they’re interested, they’ve got a positive attitude, and they are powerful, right? Who are those people? You don’t share this with everyone. This is something that you keep in your back pocket so that you are aware of it. So just awareness really.

Cornelius Fichtner: And since we are talking about missing dimensions here, Rich, there is one dimension that everyone is always interested in and that is money, money, money. These planning meetings, they are expensive to run. Rich, how do I ensure that I get a good return on my investment out of such a planning meeting?

Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. Please subscribe to our Premium Podcast to receive a PDF transcript.

PDUs: Technical Project Management, Project Manager Soft Skills, Project Manager Skills, Meeting Management

  • Last updated on .
Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner, PMP, CSM, is the host and the author at The Project Management Podcast. He has welcomed hundreds of guests and project management experts to the podcast and has helped over 60,0000 students prepare for their PMP Exam. He has authored dozens of articles on projectmanagement.com and PM World 360. He speaks at conferences around the world about project management, agile methodology, PMOs, and Project Business. Follow him on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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