3 rituals that power Coda’s product team
Coda’s rituals are the foundation of my growth as a PM and the success of our larger product team. Here’s how to adopt or adapt them for yours.
Product Manager at Coda
When I joined Coda two years ago, one company value that immediately stood out to me was the shared understanding that great ideas can come from anywhere. At the time, I was a new Product Manager and just a few years out of college. Yet, I immediately felt confident that I could make an impact at Coda, because people actually wanted to hear my perspective. “Great ideas come from anywhere,” isn’t just a principle, it’s an everyday practice—what our CEO Shishir calls rituals. Rituals are the daily ways we work, which reveal a company’s true culture. Every team likely has rituals—some of which are named, some of which aren’t. Many of Coda’s rituals have been borrowed from our leadership’s past experiences at Google and YouTube. Others were created by Codans like myself. Regardless of where they originated, these rituals form the backbone of every team and of the larger company. They all share a common goal of creating an inclusive space where anyone can share ideas and feel heard.
Blog > Product teams · 6 min read
Rituals make us better collaborators, leaders, conflict navigators, and communicators—the core skills of any Product Manager. Here are three rituals that have been most influential for me at Coda—so you can adopt them for your team. At one of the quarterly retrospective meetings I led at Coda, the engineers on the Growth team expressed interest in providing more input on our ideation process. In most organizations, PMs are in charge of deciding which features to prioritize building. Having previously worked as a software engineer, I understood the need for the broader team to feel involved and bought in. And I knew how it can feel hard to get your ideas heard. We needed a low-stakes, creative space for anyone to pitch their ideas. Inspired by Coda’s “great ideas can come from anywhere” principle, I started an idea garden: it started as a Coda doc for people to add ideas—from minor product updates to lofty new features. This evolved into monthly pitch sessions that my teammates named Garden Parties. It offers a fun and welcoming environment for people in any role to share ideas that excite them. It’s not just a morale boost though, it genuinely helps PMs do their jobs! For example, a teammate of mine pitched adding one-click Google sign-up to our website at a Garden Party. Now, Google accounts for 15% of all of our product sign-ups. The ritual serves as a continuous source of inspiration and innovation for our joint Growth team. To start your own version of a Garden Party, check out our template. Inside and outside of the workplace, I’ve always observed that open discussions can be biased toward those with the loudest voices. Executives, long-time employees, or people with strong opinions often take up more space (even if it’s inadvertent)—whether or not their ideas are representative of what the group is thinking as a whole. Meanwhile, someone who is quieter or new to the company may never have the opportunity to ask their question or add to the discussion. Dory is Coda’s solution that helps groups collectively organize what to discuss. You can add a Dory to any doc in Coda. With Dory, everyone in the group must add their questions or feedback to a table, which the group then upvotes. And yes, this ritual is named after the blue fish, Dory, in the movie, Finding Nemo, because she asked a million questions a minute. Dory guarantees that everyone can have a voice in the conversation—even if they are an introverted PM like myself. It was especially helpful for me in my early days at Coda: instead of worrying, “Am I confused just because I’m new?” I could add all of my questions into Dory without fear of derailing a meeting. As someone who often leads meetings, I routinely see the value of Dory as a meeting moderator. I can prioritize our discussions around the most pressing feedback. After the meeting, I have a recorded log of everyone’s questions (even if we didn’t get to it in our discussion), which I can follow up on. Instead of rushing to take notes and potentially missing someone’s questions, I can ask Coda AI to summarize the information in Dory and prioritize action items or next steps. Do you think Dory would be helpful for your Product team? Start with our template to use it in your own Coda doc. We’ve all been in 50 or 100-person meetings, questioning why we’re even there—sometimes discussions are only relevant to a few people, and the rest of the group is passively listening. I’ve experienced this at Coda as well. Folks ended up attending hour-long meetings when, say, only 15 minutes were actually relevant to their roles. This was costly both to the company (time = money) and to the team (think loss of focus and context switching). Enter the Bullpen ritual. Bullpen is an hour-long, company-wide block on everyone’s calendar that occurs once a week. People can schedule a section of this hour—15, 30, or 45 minutes—for “Bullpen time” by creating a topic and inviting specific people directly from the template. Bullpen allows our team to book chunks of time within the hour slot, and invite those who are needed for a particular discussion to a Zoom breakout room. As a PM (and someone who doesn’t love meetings), it’s especially helpful because we’re notoriously overbooked in meetings and there’s nothing better than a meeting productivity hack. The ritual allows us to make the best use of our time and our teammates’ time, without resorting to playing Tetris to schedule around different calendars. Bullpen also allows us to quickly get through discussions live, instead of waiting for the next team standup or trying to resolve issues over Slack. It sets us up for really concise (15-20 min) but efficient meetings, which ultimately helps our company move quickly. You can test out Bullpen with your own team using our Coda template here. Rituals can make your PM team more effective and have a positive influence on the company culture overall. Most importantly, anyone can introduce a ritual!
Coda’s rituals are the foundation of my growth as a PM and, in my eyes, the success of our larger Product team.
If you’re looking for inspiration for other rituals, visit our Gallery for templates and ideas. If you’re interested in other rituals we use at Coda, I recommend our CPO Lane Shackleton’s series on the Principles of Great Product Teams.
No matter how new you are to the company or how much experience you have, your ideas matter.
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