Rituals of My Team

The Key Accounts team enables customers to use Coda to solve business problems - here's a look at the rituals we use to keep that work engaging and fun
One of the things we talk a lot about at Coda is team
— programs or processes that enable a particular kind of work, and become part of the fabric of the company. We have a number of company-level rituals that everyone at Coda is aware of; for example, the
meeting in which we review company performance, or
, a set of templates used in almost every meeting. But individual managers often have their own rituals as well.

In this post I write about my team’s rituals, but before I do so, it may be helpful to give more background on the team and our work in general. (For more on what it’s like to work at Coda the company, see my earlier blog post on the “
.”)

Key accounts at Coda

I run the Coda Sales and Customer Success teams for our larger customer segment. I’ve run sales teams at a few startups, and I enjoy early stage sales and customer-facing work. It’s experimental, and frankly, more intellectually engaging than what I imagine “big company” sales to feel like.

We call our team “Key Accounts” (🔑+🏢!) , because we work with Coda’s largest customers, from Spotify to Uber to The New York Times—to help them get the most out of the product. We work with mid-market sized companies and above, regardless of their activity in Coda, with the goal of enabling them to use Coda to solve important business problems, and grow their partnership with us as they do so.

Coda company context


We’ve designed the team to be adaptable and strategic in everyone’s approach to working with clients, largely due to where we are as a company in our overall lifecycle. We’re no longer “wandering in the wilderness” of customer adoption, pitching anything that moves and failing over and over again. But we’re also not in “well-oiled huge machine” territory, where we just need to hire a few more cogs to fit into our giant go-to-market ecosystem, and each cog has its own specific function and is measured against a rigid set of Key Performance Indicators and Objectives and Key Results (the KPI/OKR world, amirite? Ok, but we do have OKRs, we’re not that small).

Team structure


My team has two distinct roles: Account Executives (AE) and Customer Success Managers (CSM). (Shameless plug—
.) CSMs ensure that our partners get the most out of Coda by holding trainings, delivering business reviews, and co-developing specific use-cases with individual makers. “Makerness” is a big part of being a CSM. One day a CSM could be working with a VP of product to
, the next day they could partner with a researcher to ensure their
to other researchers, also in Coda.

AEs work with customers earlier in their Coda journey to validate whether the product is the right fit for a prospect’s workflow. How will Coda work alongside other tools (every company is experiencing tool-sprawl these days) and increase productivity and clarity in the organization? AEs build proof-of-concept demos of Coda for prospects, and navigate the many parties responsible for purchasing enterprise software.

Because we’re early as a company, our customer mix is fairly heterogenous. One day an AE could pitch a VP of Ops at a major pharma company about using Coda for a specific project plan, and later that day, talk to a founder of a growth-stage startup about using Coda to run their internal company wiki. I find early stages sales and CS fun for this very reason—rather than going too deep on any given function, industry, or segment, you can learn enough to be dangerous in many of them. I used to be a consultant, and my favorite part of the job was working with a variety of clients and industries instead of being stuck in a single one for years.

Our rituals

To keep work interesting, fun, and collaborative, despite a global pandemic that has prevented us from meeting in person for over a year (including some of us who interviewed, got hired, and ramped up entirely remotely!), we rely on a number of rituals. I’m describing ours from the company-level on down to the team level, below. Not all of these are “my team’s rituals”, but everyone on the team participates in all of these.

Hackathons

Coda’s Hackathons are held roughly once per quarter, are company-wide, and are specifically designed to get individuals from different teams and functions working together. In that sense, my team isn’t involved with each other during a Hackathon - instead, we’re encouraged to work with other teams, offices, and folks we don’t normally interact with. (Plug - here’s
.)

Over a ~36 hour period, teams form and build features that are totally pie-in-the-sky, loosely organized by a theme designed by the Hackathon organizers. (The one I organized back in 2018 was “Delight.”) While Hackathons aren’t designed to ship features immediately, many of our most important features started as Hackathon projects (for example,
). (We also use Hackathons to ship docs, like
and
)

Before the pandemic, these were really fun events, held in-person at our Bellevue or Bay Area offices, with food and drink to keep folks coding, collaborating, and writing late into the night. Now, they’re remote, but we still have fun - and there is still great Hackathon “swag”, shipped to every Codan before the event starts. Here’s the design for the shirt from the “Hackatine” last April, right when the pandemic started, and we thought this remote work thing was a few weeks long phenomenon (🙄).

hackathon-11-shirt-artwork-only.png

Stats ‘n stories

I don’t want to steal the thunder of my partner in crime, David, who wrote
about this meeting, but I’ll give a brief overview. The goal of Stats ‘n Stories is to keep everyone informed on how the business is performing, and the individual stories of customer feedback that drive our product development process. Suffice to say, the meeting is fun, and there is a theme song. Its predecessor meeting was actually two meetings - “Coda Stats”, run by the Data Science team and containing quantitative info about Coda performance, and “Customer Story Time,” which I ran, and contained qualitative insights on how Coda customers were using the product. (I made a habit of “DJing” the meeting with a cheesy voice and a different song each week, which has transferred into the new format as well. You can see some of our previous meeting songs in the screenshot below, which showcases the
.)

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Doc office hours

A lot of the work on the Key Accounts team involves collaborating directly with makers at our customers’ companies and helping them implement specific workflows in Coda. These workflows vary, from company-wide docs designed to bring hundreds of stakeholders together across a variety of pages and tables, to individual-level to-do lists and meeting notes trackers. Coda’s CSMs and AEs help our clients understand how to “design” these docs for their use-cases, to make using Coda for any additional user (outside of the doc’s maker) easy and delightful. This involves building docs with, and sometimes for, our clients.

For this reason, we’ve instituted “doc office hours”, a 30-minute weekly meeting where anyone on the team can nominate a doc they are working on for discussion with the broader team. Questions range from “is this the best schema for this use-case” to “how can I make this even more visually appealing” to “is this the right formula to combine these to-dos into a single table with a button.”

As a ritual, doc office hours is lightweight and informal. There’s no pre-reading, no “post meeting follow-up”, and no notetaking during the meeting (a rarity at Coda). It’s on Friday afternoons, and has a breezy atmosphere to it—everyone’s ready for the weekend, but tinkering with docs before they do so. Other folks outside of the key accounts team are welcome to join the meeting. Some of our Customer Champions often stop by, since they are frequently helping our larger accounts with their largest use-cases, and have great ideas of how to best build docs that are elegant, simple, and powerful.

For example, the other day we put our heads together to design a doc to help a major consumer tech company keep track of the anniversary dates of a department’s employees so they could send those employees care packages of congratulations on their company hire anniversary date. Fun
and
productive!

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Key Accounts check-in

What could be more universal in the knowledge worker world than a weekly team meeting? Outside of proverbial and literal water coolers and photo copiers, there’s nothing more banal, and for some, more boring.
Here we go. Time to talk about work at work with coworkers.

But seriously, folks, we’re working hard every week, and it’s important that a team meeting solve a few things. First off, to help unblock or load-balance the work. If one CSM is underwater because of a particularly demanding client, another CSM can offer to lead a training or help a maker with her doc. Second, to raise up themes that we can collectively address by changing processes or procedures which impact all our clients. Recently a client requested a Slack channel for support, and after enabling this, saw much better adoption and appreciation for Coda; as a result, we’ve started offering Slack support more regularly for other enterprise clients. Third, the team meeting just gets people together who work together to share stories and connect - after all, work is nothing if not the people you work with.

So in the key accounts weekly meeting, we try to keep it light, actionable, and interesting enough. It’s 45 minutes, so we can go deep enough on topics (>30 mins), but don’t sandwich into every other meeting time slot, or go overly long (as one-hour meetings tend to do).

This ritual is slightly more formal than doc office hours. An
sends a message to our shared channel the night before the meeting, reminding people to check in beforehand, so we can all come prepared to digest other teammates’ feedback. The first few minutes of the meeting, everyone reads about others’ status, to know where people’s heads are at. If someone is having a “3 smiles” day (meaning their scale column is a 3/5), we’ll ask what we can do to help, if it’s a matter of sharing the load. We usually reserve at least one of our agenda topics for something that bubbles up during the check-in period - for example, discussing in depth how to handle a specific account issue.

image.png

The rest of the meeting we manage similarly to many meetings at Coda—with a
that rises topics to the top of the stack. We often have visitors from other functions. For example, a PM may walk through a new feature that we’ll be working on with our clients, or a marketer can talk about a recently launched campaign that will likely drive some leads.

Come join us!


Hopefully this gives you a sense of what it’s like to work on our team. To sum things up, I’d say we’re a
thoughtfully collaborative
team, who goes
in-depth to solve customer problems
, and has
good taste in (and appreciates) music
. If this sounds up your alley, drop me a line at joe [at] coda [dot] io , or apply through
.




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