Initiation Wrap-up

Let’s review everything you've done during program initiation.

Program charter

You've done lots of work up to this point, preparing your program to be successful. You've driven clarity and alignment. Now we need to take all that information, consolidate it, and make it accessible to every appropriate stakeholder.

The program charter is the artifact you will create, consolidating all of this information. It will answer the questions:

  • Program reason: Why are we doing this, and why now?

  • Initial scoping: What are we going to do?

  • Program team: Who is involved?

  • Working agreement: How are we going to work together?

  • Success measures: How will we measure success?

These are the foundation elements of any program.

By formalizing this information into a program charter, your program becomes much more accessible to everyone currently involved (and soon-to-be involved). Everyone should know how to access this and where it's located. The charter can help guide you when decisions need to be made. Use it when conflict arises and to onboard new teams or organizations.

The program charter rarely changes. It can, but changes should not be taken lightly. Think of it like changing the foundation of your house.

Other program artifacts, like the program plan, may change more frequently. But the program charter should be fairly consistent because it will guide your project. Think of it as your own North Star. When the program team is in the middle of a chaotic program execution and needs to ground itself, it should be able to look to the program charter. It also acts as an onboarding platform for any new stakeholders trying to understand the program.

Remember the adage: be stubborn on your goals but flexible on your plans to get there.

Note: The North Star strategy is an aspect of strategic planning that equips businesses, organizations, and teams to manage and maximize their delivery by determining an overall purpose or goal.

Program kick-off

There is one last thing that you can do during program initiation to effectively drive clarity and alignment. Review the formalized program charter with the core program team (1st-degree stakeholders) in a program kick-off meeting.

The program kick-off meeting is held at the beginning of a program to formally launch the program and bring all stakeholders together to discuss the contents of the program charter. The purpose of a program kick-off meeting is to get everyone on the same page and ensure that everyone clearly understands what the program is trying to achieve and how it will be executed.

It is typically an opportunity for team members and stakeholders to ask questions and raise any concerns they may have about the program. From the feedback or questions in this meeting, you may consider making additional edits or tweaks to the program charter, but there should not be any major surprises or drastic changes at this point.

This is also a time to introduce stakeholders who may not have met yet. It is an opportunity for the team to establish relationships, build trust, and set the tone for the program. By fostering a positive and collaborative environment, the team can increase the chances of success and ensure that everyone is working towards a common goal.

Note: The program kick-off is like pulling back the rubber-bands of a slingshot. Pulling back feels like you're not making much progress in the moment, but what you're actually doing is building up kinetic energy to increase the future potential trajectory of the program.

Program initiation recap

In this lesson, we learned:

  • Your initial focus should be understanding why the program exists and why it's happening now.

  • Initial scoping sets a baseline for what we will be working on.

  • The importance of assembling your core program team.

  • Creating a working agreement sets a baseline for how we will work together.

  • Measure success with a combination of outputs and outcomes.

  • Utilize a common framework, OKRs, to give structure to measuring success.

  • Consolidating all these important details into a program charter drives clarity and alignment.

  • Begin building cross-program relationships with a kick-off meeting.

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