We’ve already talked about general ideas for how to get started in a previous post, but what about specific tools for getting started? Well, we asked some project managers to provide some tips and tricks.

“What tools do you use when first starting a project?”

This is the question that our facilitator asked our focus group participants the other night.

Several of the usual suspects popped out:

“I make a list.” “I brainstorm with my team.” “I create a mind map.”  “I send an email.”

One answer, though, was a bit more unusual.

One woman, “I host a cocktail party!


Barbara, an executive director at a non-profit, claims her most powerful project-starting tool is the cocktail party.

Why a cocktail (or mocktail!) party?

Hosting a cocktail party allows Barbara to mix and mingle with all of the people who will be involved in her project. It allows everyone to get to know each other. They form human bonds and start to zero in on mutual goals. They become excited about, engaged in, and committed to the project, all within a fun and social environment.

[tweetify]”We could call it whisky works! or Imbibe for ideas!” [/tweetify]


Who does Barbara invite to this cocktail party?

She invites the people who will be working on her project. She invites all of the people who will be impacted by her project either positively or negatively. She is especially careful to invite the people likely to make it more difficult to effectively complete the project.

Is your company or project not adaptable to the brilliant cocktail party project tool?

With some creative thinking, you can likely come up with something fun to bring people together at the start of a project. The key components are a relaxed environment that encourages mingling and interaction. And, since most projects are all about people, and often go awry because of people, the effort will be well worth it. Every project manager knows the importance of bonding the stakeholders and team members together, as it helps the entire project move more smoothly.

In the age of COVID-19, even, a cocktail party isn’t out of the question: set up a virtual social event to bring together all of the project stakeholders. It’s BYOB: Bring Your Own Beverage!

What ideas do you have to start a project off on the right foot?


This post was updated in April 2020.