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How Asana and Slack’s meeting purges have paid off

The importance of async work and cutting down on meetings to allow for more Deep Work time won’t be new to regular readers of the blog. And yet I can’t resist sharing another article about it… How Asana and Slack’s meeting purges have paid off has the usual methods and recommendations in it (although “Meeting Rest” is a new one to me—read the article for details).

Instead what I want to focus on here is a few pull quotes about the results companies report once they were able to successful reduce their meetings. Here’s Asana:

A few months later meeting lengths had shrunk. Most 30-minute meetings were converted to 15 minutes, some weekly meetings were moved to every other week or month, and others were deleted entirely. That meant each person was saving an average of 11 hours per month, totaling about 3.5 workweeks per year.

And:

The 60 participants saved 265 hours per month in total when reducing unproductive recurring meetings. In the aftermath of our meeting reset, employees are much more strategic and thoughtful about removing items from meeting agendas that can be effectively handled asynchronously.

From Remote:

By cutting down on meetings, we’re not just saving time. We’re also empowering our teams to work on their own schedules. This gives our employees a sense of autonomy and keeps them motivated, fostering a culture of productivity and efficiency.

And finally, Typeform:

We sent another engagement form to the team to see how they were feeling after we made these changes. The ‘ways of working’ score went up more than 10 points. Trimming our meeting time has helped our employees and our customers, which is really satisfying.

It’s worth the effort, friends. Re-evaluate the need for all those meetings. Embrace async. It leads to happier employees and more effective communication in permanent places that can be referenced in the future. And, importantly, it leads to higher quality products because no one has to rush through “actual work” after all their meetings are finally done for the day.

Evolving our organization: introducing Engineering Managers and Engineering Leads

I’ve been digging into different ways to structure engineering teams a bit, and I like this take on the different roles of Engineering Managers and Engineering Leads:

It became obvious that in most cases it’s too much for one person to manage people (growth, performance and motivation), along with driving technical execution. At the same time, in most teams, we had one or more senior developers on whom Tech Lead could rely and delegate architecture decisions, quality, mentorship, etc… We decided to give these engineers roles to make them recognized in the company for their impact, also to improve communication channels, and to help team and product leads. We introduced the role of Engineering Lead to have a major influence on how we build products. Additionally, we replaced the Tech Lead role with the Engineering Manager role, which gave more focus on people and team management (“who”).

It also reminded me of Lara Hogan’s excellent post on how Engineering Managers and Engineering Leads work with Product:

What if everybody did everything right?

Here’s Lorin Hochstein with another great post about the practice of learning from software incidents. He asks, What if everybody did everything right?

An alternative lens for making sense of an incident is to ask the question “how did this incident happen, assuming that everybody did everything right?” In other words, assume that everybody whose actions contributed to the incident made the best possible decision based on the information they had, and the constraints and incentives that were imposed upon them.

The Lure of Divorce

I know there was a different The Cut essay that got more attention recently, but The Lure of Divorce is the one I actually read all the way through. A heartbreaking and beautiful story, so well written.

I didn’t read any of the internet commentary on it, but apparently it wasn’t great (shocking!). John Warner’s take on it resonates with me:

I have some things to say about the disturbing tendency of some readers to respond to attempts at interesting and true expression by leading with their moral as opposed to their aesthetic judgement.

Organizational health is (still) the key to long-term performance

This is an excellent read from McKinsey. It turns out that, unsurprisingly, organizational health is (still) the key to long-term performance:

McKinsey’s Organizational Health Index (OHI) continues to show, for instance, that, over the long term, healthy organizations deliver three times the total shareholder returns (TSR) of unhealthy organizations, regardless of industry. Other findings point to greater resilience and higher financial performance in healthy organizations, even as the world around them has become that much more complicated.

This bit particularly resonated with me:

According to the OHI research, companies with leaders who take decisive actions—and who commit to those decisions once they are made—are 4.2 times more likely to be healthy, as compared with their peers.

But it’s not enough just to be fast with those decisions; our OHI research shows that decisive leaders who empower their employees (giving those closest to the work the autonomy to make their own decisions) are 85 percent more likely to improve the quality of organizational decisions, as compared with their peers.

I’ve long been a fan of the adage “move decision-making to those closest to the data”. This research shows how important that continues to be for companies to succeed and employees to remain happy and fulfilled.

An Unreasonable Investment

An Unreasonable Investment is another excellent leadership essay by Michael Lopp. Here’s something to take with us into our jobs every day:

You want some free leadership advice? You build yourself by building… by helping others. The selfless act of helping humans will teach you more about being a credible leader than any book.

Your career is not your job. It’s the humans you help along the way.

Fit

Molly Graham has a fantastic essay on how to figure out if a job is the right fit for you. The post focuses on senior roles, but there are some great tips for everyone here:

What I look for, truly, is the intersection in the two sides of the equation: does what we NEED match what this person WANTS to do? As I said, most companies and most interviews focus more on the question: can this person do what we need? But if you’re trying to recruit the best talent in the world, it needs to start with them. Who are they? What do they love doing? What are their ambitions? How does their past shape what they want for their future? What are they insecure about? What do they want to prove? My interview style is really about mapping that.

Work for love

I love JJ Skolnik’s essay Love + Work for Flaming Hydra (paywalled but well worth it—this newsletter is great). JJ used to work at Bandcamp and reflects on “loving your work” when it doesn’t love you back. And he has some wonderful reflections on the meaning of music too:

Underground music is vital because it is an experience that cannot be replicated in capitalist language. No matter how much one tries to distill it down to a matter of commodity exchange—there is nothing that can capture the joy of a bunch of freaks making the music they want to make and sharing that in community with one another. This is true no matter how much money is poured into it. Money isn’t what makes it grow.

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