More on stage gates and project reviews

Not stage gate experts...

Not stage gate experts...

Per an earlier post (here), it is important to ask how to ensure that stage gates — and project reviews for that matter — are relevant to the project at hand.  It’s pretty simple IMO.

  1. Make sure that the stage gates match the project phase.  It is amazing how many gate reviews are conducted with a single set of questions.  There should be a general set of questions as well as a phase-specific set.  The questions in a gate review must match the expected deliverables for that gate.
  2. Structure the gate to include sessions that focus on the key capabilities and their associated deliverables.  This approach ties the review more tightly to the expected benefits of the project/program.
  3. Have subject matter experts involved during these capability-focused sessions.  We often pair these SMEs with another PM who leads the review.  They jointly review and prepare the questions.  Then the project reviewers ask most of the questions, while the SME jumps in on follow-ups or asks any technically-advanced questions.

Project debriefs…the Army way

Nice post on after-action reviews (AARs, or what we call reviews or debriefs) by Ed Kless at VeraSage.  Ed relates the experience of an United States Army officer in his class (post here).  I especially liked two points:

At AARs all personnel remove their hats. This signifies that in the AAR there is no rank. Insubordination is not possible.

While there is no rank, junior ranks are encouraged to speak first. Often times they are the ones who see the problems and therefore possible solutions more clearly.

Also, Ed’s student provided a copy of the U.S. Army’s manual (here).

Hat tip: Dennis Howlett

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