The what and why of pre-work
At Renegade, we use pre-work, often in the form of a survey, to collect information in advance of a decision or conversation.
We do this because it maximizes the probability that we are hearing all the perspectives on our team. We believe that having all the data and opinions supports better decision making and ultimately, the creation of a better organization.
We use pre-work when making highly visible investing, hiring, and strategy decisions. We also do it for seemingly smaller or more casual conversations, such as a discussion on how we are working together.
Specifically, we’ve found that pre-work has the following benefits:
Gets people on the same page, and ensures they come to a meeting prepared to discuss the topics at hand
Depth of thinking:
Surveys help encourage reflection and creativity
Putting everything in writing gives everyone a moment to collect their ideas and think about the meeting in advance in a structured way
In team environments, people who speak second, third, fourth, etc. are at risk of (even subconsciously) modifying or suppressing what they say based on what has been said by the first or the highest-status person
Asynchronous pre-work prevents high-status members of the org from having too "loud” of a voice, inadvertently quieting lower-status team members who have something valuable to say
Pre-work in practice
These questions can be modified, depending on any hypotheses the facilitator may have about the state of the team.
For example, if a team is brand-new, without existing practices, you may want to consider open-ended questions that encourage the respondent to reflect on team settings that have worked well in the past, or that they would like to avoid repeating. For existing teams, you may want to ask questions that discuss how practices the team has already adopted are working.
⚡ Tip: keep the questions crisp! The simpler the better, as it will encourage people to consider the largest gaps in work habits or the greatest strengths
(if you haven’t already) to begin using it with your team.
Each team member should complete the survey once in advance of the facilitated discussion. Respondents can have multiple answers for each question and can use a separate row for each unique thought.
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