Remote Teams

5

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5 must-have rituals for Product teams

Co-founder and CEO

@

Tability

Australia

"I wished I had another meeting!" said no one ever.

We rightfully dread repeated gatherings or large groups of humans at work. It's time-consuming, it takes you off the work you love, and what's the agenda again? A lot of meetings could have been an email or a Loom.

But, team collaboration is hard and there are a few regular touchpoints that can drastically make everyone's life easier. Rituals can help you truly harness the power of the team instead of having great individuals working in silos.

Let's start with some definitions. For a meeting to be called a ritual it needs to:

Now, why does this matter? You can boil it down to a single principle: minimizing the cost of being wrong. A team that can review a decision the following week will accept uncertainties knowing that they can quickly iterate. On the other hand, a team having impromptu strategy meetings will fight tooth and nail on every decision – there's no telling when the next opportunity to talk will be.

There's a set of exercises that should be done periodically by organizations that want to be flexible and agile. In this post, I'll present 5 simple rituals that I highly recommend for every team (and especially remote ones). Some of them will look obvious but I added a couple of tips to get extra benefits from each activity.

Monday planning

Weekends are made to disconnect from work, and this is precisely why you should start the week with a quick refresher.

How to run this meeting:

  1. Start by reflecting on your outcomes (quarterly OKRs, goals...)
  2. Then see if you need to adjust your outputs (roadmap, backlog...)
Start with your goals, then review your roadmap.

You must do things in that order to have the right context in mind when making roadmap decisions. Understanding how each OKRs is doing will help you adjust your projects accordingly. You can hardly do that the other way around.

Putting this meeting at the beginning of the week is also crucial to make it effective. You don't want people to realize on a Thursday that they spent half the week working on things that did not matter.

How to make it even better:

Rotate the moderator. Getting different people to run this meeting is a great way to build a shared sense of responsibility. I would also recommend using a Now, Next, Later format for your roadmaps to be more flexible with your initiatives.

Friday demos

Celebrate your outputs at the end of the week.

Start the week by planning your work, then finish the week by showing it. Friday demos are not just for developers! They should involve as many members of the team as possible for a 1h session. In our company, a demo meeting can easily go from a feature showcase to looking at a future Marketing campaign or checking out the latest swag designs.

The purpose of demos is to facilitate knowledge sharing and provide an opportunity for feedback before things are pushed to customers. It's a simple way to sync up and raise questions before it's too late.

How to make it even better:

Tell people why you've worked on something before you go into your demo. It helps you relate the work back to the top priorities of the team (and reinforce what the North Start is).

Weekly customer interviews

When you start building it's easy to get tunnel vision and forget about the people that will be using your product. There are many moving parts, and there's always something that you can fix or improve. But, you can't be customer-driven unless you talk to your users and prospects.

You should strive to have weekly conversations with folks in your market, and there are 4 big categories that matter:

How to make it even better:

Help your teammates get their minds off the grind by inviting them to customer calls. They don't have to participate and can just listen in or take notes.

Hearing and seeing how customers interact with the product turns code, docs and spreadsheets into real-life stories. You'll see the team becoming more engaged.

Monthly Business-as-usual KPIs reviews

Business-as-usual KPIs (BAU KPIs) are a core set of metrics that help you understand the health of your business. They're not the same as the goals talked about in the planning meeting. Assuming that you're using OKRs here's how BAU KPIs and OKRs differ.

BAU KPIs:

OKRs:

Weekly reviews of OKRs help you adjust your strategy, monthly reviews of KPIs help you make sure you have the right set of OKRs. I expect most readers to have a spreadsheet with their core metrics, but the question is more about how you use them.

Metrics alone should not drive your strategy. Instead, they should help you figure out the big objectives that you need to tackle. So, it's good to sit down every month to review your health metrics and make sure that the current strategy still makes sense. If not then it might be time to review your quarterly goals.

How to make it even better:

Your KPIs should follow the customer journey. Leads numbers at the top, usage and retention in the middle, revenue and churn at the bottom.

Monthly retrospectives

Last but not least, retrospectives. Retrospectives (retros) are typically associated with agile teams but they can do wonders for your org if you apply them globally. The ultimate purpose of retros is to alter the status quo. They force you to stop, listen to feedback, and figure out together with your team what needs to be changed.

It's a simple yet powerful technique that can highlight missing workflows, gaps in your strategy, or even issues with your company culture. There are many different ways to run retros, but it should a least answer the following questions:

You can read about the way we run ours at Tability and this is a key ritual that helps us improve our processes every month.

How to make it even better:

Commit to 3 action items per retro, and make sure that they have owners. Identifying problems is only the tip of the iceberg – you still have to do something about it.

Co-founder and CEO

@

Tability

Australia

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