Meetings for an effective engineering organization

It seems like the topic of meetings is on everyone’s minds again as we start the year. Will Larson has some good perspective from the engineering org viewpoint:

Some engineers develop a strong point of view that meetings are a waste of their time. There’s good reason for that perspective, as many meetings are quite bad, but it’s also a bit myopic: meetings can also be an exceptionally valuable part of a well-run organization. If you’re getting feedback that any given meeting isn’t helpful, then iterate on it, and consider pausing it for the time being. It may not be useful for your organization yet, but don’t give up on the idea of meetings. Good meetings are the heartbeat for your organization.

He goes on to recommend six core meetings for every organization to start with. The “weekly team meeting” is one I’ve become a fan of as well. Getting the entire team on a call every week has the potential for being a giant time-waster, so getting the purpose right and facilitating it tightly is essential here. For us, the purpose is:

  • See each other’s faces at least once a week. I wasn’t sure if the team would feel like this goal is a waste of time, but it absolutely is not. Since we’re all remote, “let’s just chat for a bit” is such a great way to start the week.
  • Discuss blockers/issues. This is not a status meeting where everyone goes around the room and tells us where they’re at. We have an agenda in Google Docs that anyone can add to. The goal is to bring up any issues that the team is struggling with so that we can all figure out the best way to help.
  • Company updates. This is also the opportunity for the leadership team to make sure the entire team has all the information and context they need to do their work effectively.

There’s one more thing about this that I highly recommend: every meeting is facilitated by a different team member. We have a schedule that we cycle through with a clear guide on what it means to facilitate—and of course, an option to opt out. This keeps the meetings interesting and everyone invested.

Previously, on meetings: