Coda's Catalyst: The art of the 10x decision forum

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Getting started

Customize & deploy your own Catalyst forum.

1. Copy this doc (and set up each integration).

If you haven’t already,
Copy this doc
so you can customize your for your own team.
Note: Don’t skip the Pack connection dialogs that pop up right after you copy the doc. They are the easiest path to setup the integrations. Here’s what they look like:
Zoom pack modal (1).png

2. Define attendee roles.

Everybody attending a Catalyst meeting should have a defined role. This ensures opinions can be taken in context and the right people have permission to act quickly and decisively. These are ours, but feel free to fill in your own, or a standard one like
, etc.
Driver 🧑‍✈️
Drivers play a dual function: both driving the discussion forward and, when necessary, making decisions. Effective meetings have a single person who feels a responsibility to make sure the meeting goes well.
Maker 🎨
The doers who are primarily responsible for executing against the decisions made during planning.
Braintrust 🧠
Originally inspired by Pixar’s braintrust model, a core group of stakeholders that must be consulted in the decision-making process. The Braintrust is there to provide valuable and timely input on topics chosen by the Driver and Makers. The goal of the Braintrust is to “add lift, not drag” to the rituals and decisions of the Makers.
Interested ✋
People who are not in any of the other role groups, but want to follow along with the decision-making process and stay informed.
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Note, if you change the names of your roles above, you should also rename the corresponding columns in .
See example:

3. Define decision stages.

Not every Catalyst is at the same Stage. At Coda, we named the five Stages of decisions so Drivers can be clear what stage their topic is at, and so reviewers can give appropriate feedback. Re-use ours, or adjust to your own.
The team is early, exploring, and/or uncertain of the problem and solutions.
The team has framed the proposal, discussion, or decision.
The team has a specific proposal they’d like feedback on.
The team is executing & wants to communicate the plan or get final feedback.
The team is reflecting on how the effort went, gathering learnings and future work.
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You can change the list above and it will automatically change the options in the Decision Stage column in :
See example:

4. Set up Catalyst Autopilot (verify integrations and automations are working).

One of the key characteristics of Coda’s Catalyst is that it is not a single standing forum, but rather a tool for scheduling many parallel decision forums. That way, rather than just a few decisions per week, we get through dozens. This doc automates all the mundane steps of managing those parallel forums with integrations and automations.
Setup and testing
1) Test (and/or set up) Integrations: When you copied this doc, you were prompted to connect with the Google Calendar, Zoom, and Slack packs. If you did that successfully, you’re done with this step!
If you want to be sure it’s working, and or if you missed the setup, test here:
Click to
Start test
. You should see a row with your name added below. Click each button to test each integration (if it’s not setup yet, you may need to click once to setup, and then again to test). When the Status column is green, the doc is setup.
Test GCal
Test Zoom
Test Slack
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Detailed checklist
Click Test GCal above.
Follow account setup instructions and sign in with Google. Allow Coda Packs to access your Google Account.
Then click the Test Gcal button again.
Verify: Open your to verify that a test event was created today between 1:00pm-2:00pm PT.
Click Test Zoom above.
Follow setup instructions. Sign in with Zoom, then allow Zoom to add Coda Pack for Zoom.
Then click the Test Zoom button again.
Verify: to verify that a test event was created between 1:00pm-2:00pm PT.
Click Test Slack above.
Follow setup instructions. Sign in with Slack, then Allow Coda Pack to access your Slack workspace.
Then click the Test Slack button again
Verify: to verify that a test message was sent to yourself, from yourself.
Once your status is green, your packs are set up. Nothing else for you to do!
2) Set up automations: Put your Catalyst meeting on autopilot by automatically sending out Slack reminders, scheduling calendar events, and deleting the Catalyst calendar hold. Here’s how to turn on the automations:
Click the ⚙️ gear icon in the top right (or type /automations)
Click into each automation and both
a) toggle it on on; and
b) change who takes the actions (at the bottom of the panel) to your personal account.
Here’s what it should look like:
Turn on automations.gif

5. Roll out the catalyst to your team.

The Catalyst forum may feel new to your team, so it’s important to help them understand why it will 10x your decisions, and how to use it. Follow this checklist to ensure a smooth Catalyst rollout to your team.
Add Catalyst “hold” slots to your company calendar. Then, copy the name of the hold event into the text box below so the automation will delete the correct event:
Hold: Catalyst
Communicate the new ritual. Send an email to your team explaining what Catalyst is, why it will 10x their decisions, and how they can use this doc.
Here’s an example email template you can use
Email template: Introducing Catalyst

Frequently asked questions

Do you have a decision log or some other way of tracking decisions?
At Coda, we use the as our decision log. Each Driver is asked to write a meeting recap after the meeting (you can see the meeting recap column if you pop open a topic row). Then, when we have questions about a topic or decision from six months ago, we can go find that Catalyst topic and read the meeting recap.
Whose account should calendar scheduling run through?
By default, it will run through the account of whoever is setting up this doc.
You can change it to another person, but need to make sure that person connects their Google Calendar, Slack, and Zoom accounts to this doc. See . At Coda, we created a separate synthetic account with a dedicated email that we call Catalyst Bot which handle these steps.
What if you want a Catalyst Forum without Autopilot?
The Catalyst forum works best with automated calendar scheduling and Slack reminders. But it will work without it as well. To disable, follow these steps:
Type /automations and turn off all the automations.
Hide the Create/Update meeting and Send Slack reminder columns in the table.

Need help?

Reach out to a Coda expert by clicking the ❓ button in the bottom right corner of any doc. Or, if you’re interested in rolling this out to your team more broadly, .

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