Lyft’s mission is to improve people's lives with the world's best transportation. Ride by ride, we’re building a sustainable future, where cities feel small again and transportation brings people together. That future is driven by hospitality and community — two things we try to cultivate from the inside out.
But with three lines of business (Rideshare, Fleet, and Transit, Bikes, and Scooters) and supporting Central Functions, each with their own set of focus areas, teams can be easily distracted by (1) the minutiae of status meetings, and (2) thousands of email and Slack updates.
To help us refocus and keep our vision in sight, we developed a standard communication template to surface relevant updates across the company: the 3Ps (Progress, Plans, and Problems).
that you can copy to implement Lyft’s 3P ritual with your own team.
Challenge 1: So many status updates, so little time.
Meetings are a natural place to give status updates, and everyone understands the value of staying in the loop. But as Lyft scaled, every single meeting was dominated with updates and context-building, which left no time for the actual purpose of the meeting. As a result, meetings went longer and were scheduled more frequently. And even then, there was a sense of unproductiveness and a lack of momentum.
Challenge 2: Did I miss something?
Employees of companies experiencing rapid growth often face a dilemma. They don’t want to miss the handful of updates important to them, so they default to reading every single update. This quickly gets overwhelming.
As Lyft grew, getting a pulse on how things were going in other parts of the company was difficult. When there were meetings, everyone wanted to attend. But then folks would be frustrated and confused without the context they needed (see problem 1).
Solution: The 3P’s — progress, plans, and problems.
There are two key elements of our 3P system that make it successful: Consistency and relevancy.
If you’ve ever received a long, rambling email you’ll understand how ineffective and difficult it can be to read. 3P updates are meant to be the opposite. They are short, structured updates — kept to three to five bullet points — on the progress, plans, and problems for each initiative across the company:
Progress: What have you accomplished in the last few weeks?
Plans: What are your upcoming plans for the next few weeks?
Problems: What challenges or blockers are you facing?
This shared language enables everyone at Lyft to quickly and effectively understand what is happening for each initiative. A good rule of thumb when writing each P is to think, “What is the one thing you want your team to remember about this initiative?”
The 3P system is also designed to be highly relevant and personalized for each reader. We’ve found that less is often more when consuming 3P’s. One pattern that we encourage is subscribing to a handful of initiatives and people that are directly relevant to your work, while muting the rest. If you need to find a specific 3P you don’t subscribe to, you can always search for it ad hoc.
Our 3P system flows bottom-up through the organization. Lyft’s hierarchy is organized like this, from bottom to top:
Individuals → Teams → Groups → Focus Areas → Lines of Business → Board of Directors
Starting with individuals, each line creates a space for their set of 3Ps. And in that space:
Each team and manager posts 3Ps every two weeks.
Leadership posts 3Ps every four weeks.
While it’s not expected that everyone will read every single 3P, managers are expected to read their team’s. And everyone understands that statements will roll up each level all the way to Lyft’s Board of Directors as appropriate.
A fictitious example of a 3P posted in Slack.
Establishing community and increasing visibility—without added meetings.
For everyone preparing a 3P, there’s value not just in the update itself, but in the process of writing the update. Even if only you and your manager read it, compiling the progress, plans, and problems is worthwhile. At the very least, you save time communicating with others, which should be justification enough. But 3Ps often prove to be a forcing function for driving community within teams. If a team has trouble drafting 3Ps together, it might be a signal that there’s an issue with how the team is shaped.
More importantly, the 3Ps give everyone a relief valve. Without the worry of communicating updates in meetings or constantly searching for context, people can stay on top of what’s happening across the business and allow leadership to provide awareness at a detailed level.
Build your own version of 3Ps.
Lyft isn’t alone in the struggle with too many status updates and a desire for visibility — which is why I’m sharing our process.
You can use whatever tool you prefer to capture your process. We’ve typically post directly into Slack, but the Coda team built this doc to show how you can cut through the noise and have one source of truth for 3P updates.
Start by copying Lyft’s 3P template, then customize it for your team.
Thank you to the following for their help and feedback: Amy Farrow, Sid Patil, Shishir Mehrotra, Stephanie Rice, Dominic Carr, Sean Sullivan, Raquel Pappas, Brian Lederman, Erin Dame, Rachel Ding, Trustin Yoon, and Justin Hales.