Meetings are important — and they suck.
No matter the size of your team, some amount of meetings are necessary to get work done. The problem is that most people don’t actually like their
. Have you ever wondered how much time your team spends in meetings? Or which of them has the best technique for managing free time? Or wanted to take a hacksaw to a particularly ineffective meeting?
Over the years, I’ve become a deep student of how teams run meetings. In my time leading YouTube, we experimented and developed our
. Since starting Coda, I’ve had a chance to work with thousands of companies and observe their best practices. In a discussion with my teammates Justin and Erin, we talked about whether we could build a process for teams to audit and self-discover their own best practices. That brainstorm led to this doc.
A systematic approach to understand (and fix) your meetings
We’ve collected our thoughts from dozens of company interviews into a single system. This doc is meant as an
for a team to collectively audit and improve their meeting systems. This is not just theory — we’re going to help you put it in practice.
The mechanics are simple: t
his doc syncs you and your team’s calendar data and takes you through a set of simple surveys to debug your
Meeting Operating System in ~30-60 minutes (and can be done asynchronously as well). It’s most useful when done as a team, but the exercises actually work for individuals too.
3 key tests to audit your team’s meetings
The audit is intended for a team that works closely together. The doc will lead your team through analysis and discussion
How much time does the team spend in meetings versus free time?
Not all free time is created equal. Paul Graham wrote a wonderful piece on the value of uninterrupted time in
. How much of your free time is uninterrupted?
Spending time in meetings is not necessarily a bad thing... as long as they are effective! How effective does your team feel your meetings are?
4 steps to improve your Meeting Operating System
With the insights from the
in hand, you use these four steps to shape your Meeting Operating System and improve your meetings:
Let’s start by baselining - what’s your current meeting OS? For many teams, a meeting OS can be as simple as just a list of the team’s shared meetings. By documenting and categorizing this list, your team can adapt to drive the alignment and values you aspire to.
meetings require schedule coordination and can have calendar impacts that ripple throughout the team. And more important, they lack the clear structure necessary to be productive. By minimizing ad-hoc meetings, teams can create the
, regular forums with enough time and the appropriate attendees.
It’s worth repeating: Not all free time is created equal. This step uncovers flow disruptors — any meeting where the time before or after is less than your designated flow time threshold. Let’s find flow!
Now that we know which meetings we have, and how they fit together — how can we make them more effective?
Each step will show us new data, lead us through a brainstorming exercise, and culminate in an
PS - We’re cataloging meeting structures and cadences of great teams. If you’d like to contribute, we invite you to submit your audit and Meeting Operating System to Coda’s Rituals of Great Teams projec
A few of the 25,000+ teams that 🏃♀️ on Coda.
Coda is an all-in-one doc for your team’s unique processes — the rituals that help you succeed. Teams that use Coda get rid of hundreds of documents, spreadsheets, and even bespoke apps, to work quickly and clearly in one place. This template is a Coda doc. Click around to explore.
Find out how to Coda-fy your rituals.