Project War Room Etiquette

The idea of a war room is to physically gather an entire project team into a ‘single location’ to facilitate communication, problem solving, risk mitigation and status reporting.

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Command centers or mission control rooms, centralized and purpose-built project meeting spaces provide a dedicated location for project teams and stakeholders to co-locate and visually communicate the activities associated with the execution of critical projects. This central location can be physical, virtual or some combination of the two based on the specifics of the organization’s business structure and/or resource.
It must simultaneously centralize focus, increase awareness, aid in decision-making and facilitate project execution actions. Consider the design of your project war room successful when a person unfamiliar with the project can enter the room and grasp the current status and next steps of the effort within five minutes.

While not focused on winning an armed conflict (thankfully!), project management war rooms provide much of the same knowledge sharing and decision-making benefits of their military counterpart:

– Direct, as-needed, verbal communications between team members rather than a reliance on phone conversations, emails or the need for separate meetings
– Heightened sense of team commitment, togetherness and feeling of shared responsibility
– Complete focus on the effort and its end-goal rather than “business-as-usual” or daily operations
– A controlled, single-source hub of information for leaders, contributors, stakeholders and interested lay-people
– Increased awareness of performance or other important metrics

In a nutshell, the Project War Room is essentially a room-sized communication tool. Everything in the room is visible to anyone in the organization. Project team members, who work in the room for the duration of the project, call it home. They can also see and hear what everyone else in the room is working on, which creates a self-sustaining culture of accountability. Project stakeholders, who visit the room on a regular basis, can quickly get up to speed on progress, current status and any issues that may be facing the team. This allows them to engage and participate immediately, rather than waiting for a dedicated status meeting. Team should utilize a “Do Not Disturb” sign to reduce distractions when focused work or critical meetings are taking place. It should be noted that private or confidential conversations should not be held in the war room.

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