The war room concept has been in use for a long time, yet many people still have issues figuring out what this concept is about. When someone mentions a war room, the first thing you think about probably has nothing to do with business. You may imagine a small, dark room on some battlefield in the middle of nowhere.
However, you couldn”t be more wrong. War rooms are a real thing in the banking world nowadays. Even though they were related to wars in the past, these rooms exist in project management. Let’s see how everything started.
Why is it called a war room?
The war room was first introduced, obviously, during war times. It was where military leaders and generals discussed their tactics and strategies. It was very prominent during WW1 and WW2.
The first war room was used back in 1901, and it was placed at military headquarters. The highly ranked military personnel would meet in this room to discuss tactics on how to win the war. You’ve probably heard of the famous Winston Churchill war room during WW2.
Nowadays, in London, you can visit a museum dedicated to this room. Churchill would meet military leaders and generals and discuss how to beat Germans in combat and war altogether.
This term moved to other areas of our lives, more precisely to project management and boardrooms, which this article is about.
A war room in an office
In project management, the war room is where all good projects start. It’s also a space where chiefs, agents, and managers spend most of their time discussing various project stages, ideas, and activities.
Some would say that the war room office is the most important part of the project, and to some extent, we agree. This place contains computers, whiteboards, papers, presentations, and other technicalities that help team members and managers make crucial decisions.
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Here they will create strategies that primarily impact more significant projects requiring a detailed approach and effective communication. The bigger the project, the more challenging it becomes to manage all the aspects. Therefore, the war room is an important asset and plays a crucial role during the planning phase, where everyone needs to be involved.
In war rooms, people will generate ideas and brainstorm new solutions, to ensure they have a flawless plan. It’s important to mention that project teams and executives will spend most of their time in war rooms, preparing things for the next big project.
The main principles of the war room
A war room meeting incorporates a couple of essential principles. However, the main idea is to gather everyone responsible for the project in one room where they can exchange ideas and communicate easier.
While a war room is mostly a physical room, it can be a virtual one or both. Now, let’s focus on the main principles.
Successful communication. Every team member or management member should be able to hear everything discussed and have enough freedom to share their own opinion. Also, every piece of information needs to be conveyed clearly.
Space. A war room should feature enough space for writing. Chalkboards or whiteboards should be a focal point of your room, a spot everyone can see.
Everyone should be involved. The war room is a space that promotes equality, where everyone has the freedom to express themselves, their ideas, and thoughts about a project. Whoever does the talking should do it clearly because everyone needs to hear and see the speaker.
Visualization. Visualization is crucial for war rooms. Besides the surface area, the war room needs to contain plenty of visual representations where different metrics and numbers are presented. This involves user interface designs, tables, wireframes, photos, graphs, notes, etc. This is where you clearly show information and data about the project.
Variety. People from other departments or fields should be invited to offer an alternative perspective and cover all crucial aspects of the project.
Not a meeting room. The war room is designed to inspire creativity; therefore, this isn’t a meeting room where managers or staff meet. It should encourage creative debate, not business debate.
Quick decisions. Sometimes, you need to decide to move the project further quickly. Other times, some decisions are considered over a more extended period.
The main function of a war room
Regardless of your business, if it involves team cooperation, you want to ensure your company has one war room with a large table and board. If not, either look for available space or rent an office that’s up to 15 minutes ride from your company’s base.
The size of the war room depends on the number of people, or you can send your project management team to another building where no noise or distraction is coming from the main headquarters.
The primary function of the war room is to connect everyone, generate new ideas, and ensure better project management. On top of that, war rooms are specifically designed to boost collaboration and information flow, solve problems and make decision-making more responsible.
In war rooms, your meetings will be more productive, and planning, research, and strategies will improve while sharing ideas. Overall, you and your team members will be able to accomplish desired results.
What are war room meetings?
War room meetings mix a group of people who wouldn’t typically work together. Compared to regular meetings, war meetings last longer and can go up to an hour. You can use a dedicated space for this purpose or look for an occasional area where you will spend a couple of hours with your team every week.
When running these types of meetings, you also have to remain sane. Many say when entering a war room, staying sane is one of the most challenging aspects. It might seem silly, but you can quickly become overwhelmed when everyone is acting chaotically.
As emotions rise and tension grows, chaos can begin to break out, causing the decision-making process more difficult. If you are a leader, you must lead by example and remain calm and collected.
Your war room meetings must have daily milestones, which must be tracked throughout the day. This increases the team’s motivation and ensures you stay on track with your goals. It is easy to get off track, but when you have daily milestones, they will keep you in line.
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