When you think about the productivity of an organization, really all you have as company leaders is the sum total of the hours that your people have.

In this episode

In this special C-Suite Roundtable episode of Supermanagers, host Aydin Mirzaee brings together 4 top executives from diverse industries to tackle one of the biggest challenges in modern workplaces: meeting efficiency. This episode features Michael Koenig, COO at Tucows, Rebecca Kacaba, CEO at DealMaker, Jeffrey Sullivan, CTO at Consensus, and Matthew O’Riordan, CEO at Ably.

Michael shares his innovative meeting approach at Tucows, a company spanning domain names, fiber internet, and telecom SaaS. He discusses the importance of flexible meeting policies and how implementing structured meeting frameworks like EOS Level 10 meetings can transform organizational productivity.

Rebecca delves into DealMaker’s mission to revolutionize capital raising. She emphasizes the shift towards asynchronous communication and the critical role of effective tooling in managing meetings and team collaboration.

Jeffrey talks about the complexities of managing global teams and how the transition to remote work has necessitated a more intentional approach to meetings and asynchronous workflows. He highlights the creation of a living document that codifies Consensus’ remote work practices and meeting policies.

Matthew shares Ably’s journey from an office-based to a remote-first organization, focusing on the challenges of meeting inefficiencies. He explains how implementing consistent tools and structured processes has been transformational, allowing for quicker decision-making and more effective collaboration across global teams.

Tune in to episode 8 of season 2 to explore these leaders’ insights and strategies on optimizing meetings, fostering asynchronous communication, and enhancing productivity in remote and hybrid teams. This episode offers a wealth of actionable advice for leaders looking to improve their organization’s meeting culture and overall efficiency.

Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the podcast with your colleagues.


Guest introductions


The biggest meeting pet peeves


How meeting policies at Tucows evolved


Transitioning to remote work


Effective asynchronous communication


Practical strategies for improving meetings


Creating meeting policies is collaborative


Meeting templates and structures


The benefits and challenges of maintaining meeting policies

Resources mentioned in this episode:


Aydin Mirzaee  00:12

We’re here to talk about how to trade meeting efficiency in organizations how to reduce meeting bloat. And, you know, there’s a lot of stuff to talk talk about today. It’s actually a very hot topic, I would say over the last two years. I mean, especially since COVID, one of the things that happened is organizations everywhere started to have a lot more meetings. And so this has actually been a topic that has always been an issue meetings have always been an issue. But since COVID, has just become so much more of an issue. And as a results. Once you get past a certain stage, most companies are doing some sort of active thinking about it. And if they’re not, basically I would say like the bandwidth of those organizations starts to get consumed. And so today, we have some amazing guests for leading organizations. And they encountered some of the problems that I just mentioned. And they’ve gone ahead and they’ve done things about it. So it’s going to be a really exciting discussion. I’m sure that you’re all going to learn a lot. I think the panelists will learn from each other as well. And to begin, I thought maybe a good place to start is just to go around very quickly, and for everyone to introduce themselves. And maybe just tell us who you are, what company you work at and what the company does. So I’m just gonna go in order of the panelists on my screen, Michael, you’re first so and also tell us where you’re located.

Michael Koenig 05:06

I’m Michael Koenig. I’m the Chief Operating Officer at Tucows, which is a public company based in Toronto. Although I am located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Tucows, what we do is, we have three lines of business. The first is domains. So domain names. And this goes back to when domain names really first started, we’ve been doing it for a long time. The next line of business is Tim fiber, which is a fiber Internet company across the United States and about 22 cities now just launching in Memphis as well. And the last is wave flow, which is a telecom SAS that powers communication service providers, like DISH Network, for instance. So a nice to that the parent company level, which we lovingly called TCXO, providing shared services to all of our operating businesses so they can do what they do best of sales, marketing and product. And I have to drop off at the half hour mark, so sorry. And I think I just chatted for the entire half hour. So great being here. Yeah.

Aydin Mirzaee  06:08

Well, thanks for the intro there. And I certainly remember Tucows from the early days of the internet. It’s amazing how many things it does. And so yeah, super excited to chat with you. So next, we’ll go to Rebecca.

Rebecca Kacaba 06:20

Hey, thanks for having me here. So I’m Rebecca, CEO, co founder of dealmaker, which is a FinTech company, we are making it easier for people to raise capital digitally. So everybody knows when they go to raise money for their business, they can raise from a VC or they can raise from a broker, what a lot of people don’t know is they can also market their offering digitally and raise capital that way. So we like to say we’re making it as easy to sell shares online as it is to sell shoes online. That’s

Aydin Mirzaee  06:51

awesome. Love it. And so next, we’ll go to Jeff.

Jeffrey Sullivan 06:54

I’m Jeff Sullivan, I’m Chief Technology Officer at consensus cloud solutions were traded on the NASDAQ as CCSI. We’ve been around as part of other entities for more than 20 years, we spun out on our own in 2021. So we’ve been part of a publicly traded entity for the past 20 years. But on our own as an entity since 2001. We are in the healthcare interoperability space more than anything, we have a number of product lines, including many of the industry leading cloud fax solutions, like effects, also intelligent data extraction in our clarity product. And mostly what we do is we talk about our vision being providing life’s essential data, when, where and how you need it. And that’s the easiest summary that we can come up with, which is really moving data around securely and reliably, really globally. We’re a global entity in Boston’s six different countries with business all around the world. And I am in Los Angeles, which is where our headquarters is. That’s

Aydin Mirzaee  07:51

awesome. Very cool. And finally, Matt,

Matthew O’Riordan 07:54

hey, thanks for having me on. Yes, I’m Matt, I am the CEO and co founder of Ably we also move, move data around Jeff but in a different way. We are a real time data experience platform, our customers are developers. So we provide actively API’s and SDKs for them to deliver real time experiences. A bit like you know, in this zoom for the webinar, we are now you know, the sort of chats on the side or the fact that we can see each other powering those other features to work with, in very large companies like HubSpot NASCAR men city to to delivering big sports events or collaborative software. But like fellow as well as the the collaboration side features, we power a little those little things. And we’re upgrading for some pretty big internet scale. Now we’re reaching about a billion devices a month. So that’s a nice, nice big numbers. And we’re headquartered in London. I’m in the office today, but I’m based in France, in the Alps.

Aydin Mirzaee 08:51

That’s awesome. And one

Matthew O’Riordan 08:53

final thing, Michael . Yeah, yes, it brings back a lot of good memories from way back to the day. I’ve been from South Africa recently. And I remember two girls even back in the day before I left Africa. Yeah, it’s great to have you on.

Michael Koenig 09:06

Fabulous, love it.

Aydin Mirzaee  09:07

It’s amazing to see, yeah, just a brand thrive for that long period of time continue growing. So that’s awesome. So why don’t we start, you know, just as an icebreaker to get things going, I thought we could go around and I’ll kind of randomize who goes first to get everybody on their toes. So first question is like just starting out with is there a pet peeve that you have for meetings? Is there something that you know, you get parachuted into an organization and you see something happening and you just can’t stamp it, or anything like that, we’ll go to Matt first.

Matthew O’Riordan 09:39

A big pet peeve is just no agenda and throw people together to try and solve a problem. It just just never seems to work remotely. I’d say even in person that works doesn’t work very well, but suddenly remotely doesn’t work. We’ve only really seem to have success when people have clarity of like what we’re trying to achieve. So just lots of people in a meeting with no agenda is a pet peeve of mine. That’s

Aydin Mirzaee  10:02

awesome. And Michael,

Michael Koenig 10:03

I don’t see it too often anymore. But people walking on treadmills during meetings with their camera on, I find it really nauseating. And I get it, let’s kill some birds with stones and get some exercise in. But that’s the unique pet peeve. But I also echo mad, getting into a meeting not having an agenda and knowing what we’re doing.

Rebecca Kacaba 10:25

I spend a lot of my day in meetings. So my pet peeve, we tried to do 20 minutes or 50 minutes. So when meetings go over time like that, I don’t get a break between meetings, get up, go to the washroom clear my head, I think that’s really important to have that mental break between meetings. So yeah, that’s my pet peeve when people try to push it past the 50 minutes all the way to the hour. All

Aydin Mirzaee  10:48

right. And Jeff, so kind of

 Jeffrey Sullivan 10:51

alluded to by Matt, but too many people in a meeting, Nothing drives me crazier than seeing an invite with 20 or 30 people on it, because I know that four or five people are going to be the only ones who talk in the entire meeting. And I just see the dollar sign racking up and realize what people could be doing versus what they’re doing now. Yeah,

Aydin Mirzaee  11:10

that definitely is a big one, one of the ones that I remember, from back when everybody was in offices, and that was like, you know, the main main way of working was, there was almost like this artificial limit of how many meetings could happen within a company, because there’s only so many meeting rooms. And since that artificial limit that well that real limit, you know, was taken away. And now there’s like, everybody has the power to begin a meeting anywhere and you serve time from different people within the organization, if you think about that, that’s a really dangerous thing, they can just with a click of a button, the ease of which we can do this thing has caused a lot more of it to happen, and potentially not everyone to think it through super responsibly. So what I’m starting to hear so one of the things is that you what you all have in common is, you’ve all you know, recognize that meetings are something that you need to get a handle on. And you’ve all created meeting policies within your organization’s are kind of talked about how meeting should happen. And you’ve all kind of like implemented a bunch of these things and change meeting culture within your companies. So one of the things that maybe I wanted to start with is, how did you know that this was something that require your attention? And the interesting thing is that this is like very much at the highest levels of the organization, right? Like, this is the C suite getting involved, and getting involved in meetings. And so the question is, you know, what happened, Michael, at Tucows, that prompted you to even you know, think about this, how did this grab your attention? Well,

Michael Koenig 12:44

I gotta give a lot of credit to the team, because I shared the structure where we have this parent and then three subsidiaries. One of the things that we like to do, whether it’s with meetings, whether it’s with the SAS you use, whether it’s with policies that you create, that don’t really affect the parent company, we’d like to give people a certain amount of flexibility and freedom to create their own policy, because we don’t want to necessarily shove things down their throat, I think Ting has done the best job of this. I’ve had nothing to do with it. But they really have, I’d say more than any of our other businesses up pretty great meeting framework. I’ll admit, we’re currently working with Aiden, your team were fellow customer. And we’re currently working with your team to see how we can do policies meeting policies better. One of the things that and I’ll just say there are two things that I’ve implemented in terms of how to conduct really great meetings. And the first is something that I snagged from the entrepreneurs operating system Eos, I’m not crazy about EOS. But they do have this thing called level 10 meetings. And it’s a very strict sort of meeting agenda where you spent X amount of time doing this, then you move on, you spent X amount of time doing this. And the one part that’s the best as they call IDs, you identify, discuss and then solve problems. And these are the biggest Harry’s problems that you and your your team are dealing with. And so creating the structure, and also the environment and atmosphere to be able to do that I think is really effective. Now, whether or not people are going to use that same meeting structure elsewhere. Leave it to them. So we do want to offer that freedom and flexibility.

Aydin Mirzaee  14:26

All right, awesome. So it sounds like it was something that bubbled up from within the organizations. It sounds like at tng, there was just You just saw the excellence there. And then, you know, having the ability to transfer some of the good practices from one company to the other. That’s that’s kind of where it bubbled up. Matt, you’re the CEO. How did this grab your attention? We as an

Matthew O’Riordan 14:47

organization, we started out remote First we sort of went for being in an office then we’re back to being a mode first during COVID. And I think maybe our approach to solving this might have been slightly unique And that we had good ideas around what looked like a good meeting, or why we should have meetings and how to set clear expectations or what what we’re doing in those meetings. And you know, our people, we got people team who helped sort of set structures or things like how we do effective one on ones and different cadences of champions versus quarterly reviews, and all those sort of thing. We haven’t all of that in place. What I found, maybe being a bit more from a more technical background was we didn’t have the tooling. So you generally don’t want to start with tooling. Tooling is rarely the problem. It’s actually the process or why you want to do things. But actually, it did start becoming a problem tooling really did begin, we didn’t have a consistent way of setting agendas. We didn’t know people were setting agendas, we have no way of knowing if one on ones are being run the way we thought they were people had templates, or they’re using templates, and you don’t want to micromanage you don’t want to be sort of, you know, really checking in individually on everyone on what they’re doing. So it was a tooling issue was primarily attended to for me, it started with, I started to see inefficiencies in the meetings I was attending. And so, you know, I think it was unique. And it was me literally trying out fellow and working on it. And suddenly it was transformational. And I think it was less about that we knew what we wanted to do, as well as the fact that we didn’t seem to be able to run the meetings the way we anticipated. So that was our entry into it. That was the problem. And I do remember going to meetings where it felt like, you want to be nice, right? So you have to sort of if one person uses a Google doc you use they’re gonna go dark and another person use Asana because I wanted to do it as the list of tasks. So the non person, and everyone had their own way of doing things, and you don’t want to be great friction. So you try and adapt to everyone’s different way of doing things. But it just was such a waste of time and for can really hard to work. So that was how we came in. That was the main problem we try to solve. Okay,

Aydin Mirzaee  16:48

so it sounds like you were going to meetings and then experiencing sub optimal meetings. And then you just decided to do something about it yourself and just make it happen. Rebecca, was it the same for you like was this like a you went to meetings and experienced it? Or was it something that that team brought to your attention?

Rebecca Kacaba 17:05

Yeah, for us it was the team very much was very vocal about wanting it because some of our team had used it in past organizations, and so really saw the power of the tool. So we definitely had knew that we had too many meetings going on. And we were trying as an organization to move to more communication through writing. Rather than always just calling a meeting to discuss it to come to the outcome, we’re really trying to see if we could work more asynchronously. And it’s fellows really helped us do that, because the meeting notes are there in the tool. And so if someone’s away, they can watch the video, or they can read the notes, or you can share the notes are the two dues are listed. So it’s really, as Matt said, the tooling is is really important for us in making that shift to not having so many meetings. I’m a big fan, as Michael pointed out of the level 10 meeting, we also use the four P’s for a meeting. So we had those little techniques to drive efficiency, the four P’s worked really well, where it’s a smaller meeting than a level 10. We’re trying to run, you know, 20 minute and 50 minute meetings. But ultimately, the team just said, look, we’ve used this before, this is going to level us up. And so we did and again.

Aydin Mirzaee  18:17

Yeah, that’s awesome. So it sounds like it came from the team. But you also had a sense for what meetings look like. But it also seemed like from your perspective, you wanted to do more things asynchronously. So that was one of the drivers was like how do we get more people to think this should be asynchronous? Jeff, from your perspective? I mean, you run engineering, how did you just the concept that you have to do something about meetings make its way to you, for

Jeffrey Sullivan 18:44

us, it’s fundamentally about efficiency and effectiveness, right. And I don’t want to sound like the reactive guy who says I run more than engineering, but but my group is the product technology group. So it’s product management, its PMO, its operations, it’s a whole bunch of things. And there’s a lot of disparate people in that group that have very different perspectives, very different interaction styles, and us in the GTM group of the two largest groups, where 85% of the company between us. And so we’re constantly having to interact multidisciplinary and symptom wise, you see these meetings getting bigger and bigger, and there being more and more of them, and you feel like almost all of the day is sucked up into meeting sound. And you ask yourself, at a certain point, when is the work getting done? If all of these key people are in meetings all the time. And so that was sort of the germ of it. But then COVID really sparked for us a desire, we had to go remote, we said very intentionally, how can we be a better company and working asynchronously because we were such a very in office oriented company and even though we’re multinational with offices everywhere, and therefore you know that no matter where you are, there’s a bunch of people that are coming in from, I don’t know, Dublin or Ottawa, or Tokyo. So on the one hand, you have to be good remote, but COVID really forced was a forcing function for us to see everybody kind of distributed went remote. And so we very intentionally went about and said how Can we be more asynchronous, and that means that meetings have to be more efficient and effective. But you also know being distributed across the world really, that it’s very hard to find times that everybody can meet in. So just not having to find that golden hour when Matthew can come as well as the person in Los Angeles, you end up having like two or three hours a day where you can reasonably expect to me and everything else is just well, Matthew can’t make it or Jeff can make it or Michael can’t make it, or Rebecca can make it. And so we tried to get better at being more asynchronous. From my perspective, that pet peeve of mine, the 30 people in the meeting, and five of them are talking those other 25 Were there either because they wanted to hear what was going on, or maybe something would come up that was relevant to them, or wouldn’t or they were being brought in by somebody else. And we wanted to give those people kind of take away the FOMO have that ability to make people be educated and informed about what was going on without feeling like I need to take big time out of my schedule to do it. Or even worse, in many ways, I’m multitasking. So I’m not really paying attention to this meeting, but I’m in it. So I’m not giving my full attention to the work, not giving my full attention to the meeting and sort of halfway doing both of those things. And those were all just symptoms that my senior leadership team saw as well. And we were all kind of dissatisfied with it. But for us, the forcing function was absolutely COVID and the need to go remote, and really the desire to be more efficient and effective. And we’ve largely stayed remote, various groups within our organization that have gone hybrid, but we’re already fully distributed during COVID, we took advantage of hiring people no matter where they were. So we can hire the best people anywhere. Rather than having to look at Lucas’s near offices. You can’t unring that bell, given that you’re embracing the notion that you’re largely a remote organization, even if you’re somewhat hybrid, you’ve got to get better at this. And for us, it really was, how can we have fewer more effective meetings?

Aydin Mirzaee  21:52

And so this was it sounds like your executive team? We’re all talking about this, especially with COVID. But was it you that you know, kind of like put your hand down and said, We’re doing something about this? Did you lead the initiative?

Jeffrey Sullivan 22:05

It did I I’m a big process person, I had implemented death by meeting a decade or two ago, at various places. So I always think about how can we be more effective, I always like to say all of my process thinking comes out of being inherently lazy. And so I look for ways to be more effective at things. I think Matthew said, you don’t start with tools. But at some point, you realize that what’s holding you back is an ability to actually implement the processes that you’ve got. And tools are able to help that I’m a big believer that you always start with paper, you figure out how to do something, and then you look for a tool that lets you do that more efficiently, rather than trying to find a tool and then wrapping yourself around that. But for us, it was really about, okay, how can we systemize this because you’ve got people at all various levels of maturity around how to operate meetings, and, and how to interact with people. And you want to give them the right toolkit so that they can be more effective without having to become experts in all this stuff before they can do it. And the right kind of guidance in tooling that takes especially the grunt work away from it is a huge factor. So much of it for us was, How can I tell if our people are setting agendas, how can I tell how many people are in meetings, right? And the ability to to get tooling that helps me get those insights without heavy lift was a big deal for us. And so we did a lot of work, looking at the tooling, after we decided what we wanted our meeting culture, what we wanted our meeting process to be like, and that’s really kind of how we worked on it. So it was definitely approach first and tool second, but you never find anything that’s a perfect fit for what you want. You want something that really enables you to be a how you want to be and as customizable enough that it can support you where you need the support.

Aydin Mirzaee  23:41

Love it. So one thing I want to mention to everybody listening in is there’s a q&a section that you can start adding your questions into. And I know that Michael has to leave very shortly. Michael, you worked at a bunch of I mean, basically your background has been remote work. I mean, you were early employee also at automatic, which is crazy. WordPress, you’ve worked at a number of companies, what have you done to actually like tackle the meeting problem. You talked about, for example, the level 10 Meeting template, what are some practical things that you start doing or you’ve seen your company start doing to actually tackle the problem?

Michael Koenig 24:18

It’s funny, because back in the early days of automatic, there really weren’t very many meetings we’ve worked into and this is dating 2006 2008. Right? We’re still using old school IRC. So the majority of the conversation is one entirely asynchronous and too accessible by all. Now this was also when we use Skype, right when Skype was like the way you had any sort of phone, internet or voice interaction. There wasn’t even video. So that started to become a bit more of a thing, but still, the default was always to asynchronous communication. And it’s funny, back then we always said that if video ever got introduced, we’d quit. Because none of us wanted to put on pants. You know, of course, we didn’t really think that, Oh, if we just have the video here, you can still not wear pants. So some of the things that we’ve just kind of got ahead with moving forward is always that agenda. And I think Amazon’s kind of a little bit extreme, right, where you write up the six page doc, and everyone has to read it before meeting, but at least giving people a pre read whenever possible, hey, here’s what we’re going to be discussing. Here’s the agenda. But also, here’s the supporting documentation, right, that here’s a slide deck, here’s a doc so that we can all come to the table with some sort of educated approach, and also already have the context to be able to not just get informed, but actually make decisions. And I think that’s a key. Is this a meeting to discuss? Or is it a meeting to make a decision? So those kind of picked up over time as video meetings and the need within a remote culture started to adapt to the technology? So really kind of an interesting sort of Genesis throughout the decades. Love

Aydin Mirzaee  26:14

it. Yeah. Thank you for sharing. I know you have to drop off. But thank you for attending.

Michael Koenig 26:18

Thanks so much for having me. And Jeffrey, Rebecca, Matthew, great to connect. Nice to meet you.

Aydin Mirzaee  26:23

All right. So next, what I wanted to do is let’s talk about meeting policy. So again, you’ve all come into this with some ideas on there’s something to fix, you have an idea to fix it. Usually, you know, tooling can help. But a lot of it is process is culture, because you’re changing the way that people are operating. We talk a lot about company culture, we have things like values. But you know, there’s also this thing called meeting culture, which is the things that we often do as it relates to meetings. And the problem is just like with any sort of culture, if you don’t set your culture and say, these are our values, and this is how we do things here. Every time you hire someone, they bring their culture. And before you know it, it’s just like a hodgepodge of all sorts of things. And the same thing is true for meetings, if you don’t plan to say, this is how we do things, then every new person you hire will bring their way, and then you won’t have a common way. And so you’ve all created these meeting policies. And one thing, which would be cool, and you can think about, I won’t put you on the spot, but these are amazing resources. I’ve read over your meeting policies, and they’re all slightly different. And it would be really cool if I think like the attendees would love to see this stuff. So you know, you can think about that. If it’s something that you’re willing to share or a redacted version, or whatever else, I think it would make, like really, you know, make it very helpful for people to kind of learn from it. I wanted to start with Matt. So not in looking at your your meeting policy. I mean, there’s a lot of really amazing things in there. One is I wanted to ask you about how did you put it together? Like, did you you know, was it one of those you got really inspired, stay that late into the night and wrote it? Was it collaborative? And one other thing I wanted to point out from your specifically is where it starts is, do we even need a meeting? And there’s a flowchart? Like you actually have a graphical flowchart of like how to make the decision of whether something should be a meeting or something else. I’d love for you to describe that as well. But for is yours. Yeah,

Matthew O’Riordan 28:18

I mean, look, it’s been it has been a collaborative effort. And I think the thing that we have found interesting is, we have tried to be a written first organization and remote first, right. So that was always our belief. But it’s a lot of things can be solved by writing something down, then coming together discussing it, you know, what’s really interesting is, we’ve also sort of found that that’s just not a rule that we want to enforce. Because we found with a written first approach, we can have such a slow cycle time between someone writing something getting feedback going back and forth, these endless Reddit like threads of conversations going on. And so it felt like it has to be a bit fluid. And I think where we get to as as soon as our written first approach, which is our preference starts to slow down, then a meeting is the way to kind of move that forward. So you know, getting people together to discuss things is absolutely the most efficient way of sharing information very quickly. So we’ve just continued to evolve the way that we understood when you need a meeting when you don’t need a meeting. But I think we have rotated backlog, we actually sort of err on the side of if it feels slow, then the way to move quickly is not more written stuff. It’s getting onto a goal. So the things that we are starting to do that I think it helps if we have decision records inside the business. So every time a decision gets made, to make sure that’s written up that shed that saves, that means you know, you radiating out the information effectively to the organization. You know, we have things like Requests for Comments. So that’s a proposal of I’ve got an idea it could be anything. And an RFC often is a quick way of getting some idea out and then getting feedback. But again, often jumping at a meeting is the quickest way to really debate that a lot of our focus has been on also around The control of how much information radiates out when we first started were small. So we opened, we operate a very open company. I mean, there’s pretty much everything is available apart from personnel records and salaries and things like that, but pretty much everything else everyone has access to. And we thought it was great, because everything just gets published out. But the problem is actually people just drowning in information. And then and that actually becomes a slows everyone down. And there’s a lot. So we’ve increasingly started to think about bringing people together, and how do you radiate that information out directly to the organization and I know, you know, fellow having AI tools now and better than it were using a bear is not you know, that that was helping us a lot we’re enabling now a lot of people not to attend meetings, because they can just read the notes to summarize notes from an AI meeting, you know, from AI in a meeting, then they can jump in and have a listen. And then they can follow up and kind of get involved with calls. So it’s evolving quite quickly, especially with AI AI is really fundamentally changed in that I know, there’s also, you know, within the commercial organization, tools like Gong, which I know, I’m sure you’ve all sort of come across, fundamentally changing how we operate as a business in terms of when you need to go to a meeting when you don’t, how you can listen to it and get insights. So I think what we’re seeing right now is quite a radical shift, and how are we going to use tools to reduce how much time we spend in meetings, and how we can distribute that information more effectively? And I know, your question was, how do we come up with meeting policies when it is it’s evolving, and everyone’s budget meetings and everything? For us? It’s effectively like a wiki internally, and everyone can oppose a change to it. And that is exactly what happens all the time.

Aydin Mirzaee  31:35

Yeah, that’s super useful. So it sounds like you started from a place it was collaborative. And maybe it was like a pendulum, like, maybe you swung a little bit too far this way. And you’re like, Well, not everything can be super written and then went a little bit back, and it’s still evolving. And that makes a lot of sense. It also seems like a key issue for you was communicating decisions that come from a meeting, I find this idea of like a decision lob, super fascinating, like, how does that work? Is that a Slack channel where I have disciples, and it just gets posted there? Or like, how does that work? The radiating of decisions,

Matthew O’Riordan 32:09

it’s a bit more formal. So we have each department has their own decision log, which and even each decision has a an ID number. So that kind of chronological list of decisions. And you know, each team has kind of effectively decide what’s appropriate in terms of the information they share. But it saves a lot of us just constantly revisiting the same problems over and over again, new person starts in the company. Why did you do that? Yeah. And you sort of have the same conversation. Yep. I know, that doesn’t seem obvious, but it kills the legacy of what we did that it also what’s fascinating is allowing someone to then challenge a decision that was made, that maybe was appropriate five years ago, but it’s no longer appropriate, as opposed to everyone go now that’s the way we’ve always done it. And everyone’s asked about that before, don’t try and change it, but actually know they can, because they can say yeah, but your rationale for that four or five years ago is no longer valid. So we’ve gotten quite formal on that. And that’s very much our sort of written person approach. As you said, though, we rotated too far. And then the sooner it was started becoming what I would say is more for collaboration that became the sort of you wanted to show all the different options that you were considered. And actually, that wasn’t the point of the decision making the decision vector was the record of why you made the decision. So we did kind of rotated with Teva, there’s always an oscillation, I think, in the organization, or these things are great, they they slowing us down, these things are great. So it’s just trying to find that balance, but I can’t stress how valuable it is to have these in place. And again, going back to the AI tooling and things that you can apply into meetings. Now. It’s just quicker to get these things out. So it’s a good time to be around.

Fellow  33:42

If you’re finding yourself in too many meetings and still struggling for visibility in all areas of the business, the team at fellow developed an AI meeting assistant that records, transcribes and summarizes your meetings now you can skip meetings altogether, knowing that fellow will give you the summary of what was discussed and decided. And for those meetings you actually need to attend. Bella will take detailed notes of the highlights and decisions so everyone can stay present during the meeting, knowing there will be an accurate and automated record of the outcomes. And next steps fellow is helping organizations get more done with less start your free trial by heading to and start having fewer more effective meetings across your organization today. Now back to the episode.

Aydin Mirzaee  34:31

Yeah, I mean, it’s super interesting. I mean, this is one of the you know, Michael mentioned this before he left but the EOS template like one of the things about it is you can always have a section for cascading decisions. Okay, meaning is done. Who needs to know about the things that happened here and then you right now AI can be like, Oh, grab a clip and send it to them. But like from a process perspective, that’s super, super important. And I love how the decision log it sounds like it’s a lot of work, but I can see how it actually speeds up the company over the course. To time a whole bunch of conversations that maybe don’t need to happen, because that exists. Record, I’d like to ask you the same question as well, which is like, how did the meeting policy come together for you? And also, one of the things that I’ve noticed in your meeting policy, which was super interesting, is you’ve actually outlined the types of meetings that can happen in the company. And you even have templates for if you’re doing this type of meeting, here’s your template, this type of meeting, here’s your template. So yeah, we’d love to hear your perspective. Yeah,

Rebecca Kacaba 35:30

I think like Matthew said, the meeting policy evolved over time as we started to have different needs as an organization. And it’s always fluid and moving forwards, and then backwards, sometimes it feels like but we found, you know, when COVID first happened, okay, every team camera’s on needs a morning stand up for everybody to get the juices flowing. And so we very quickly defined a template for what should happen in the morning stand up and what the outcome for the leaders who are owning those stand up should be. And then we found that there was a lot of meetings, and they were sometimes veering off in different directions. I know that was one of the questions, how do you bring it back? Our culture is very blunt, if you feel the meetings off track, you say, Guys, this meeting is off track, get back on track. And so we introduced the four P’s, which is you’re supposed to reject a meeting and by if it doesn’t have the four P’s in it, so what’s the purpose of the meeting? Who are the people who need to attend a lot of times that will help the person sending the invite, think through who they’re actually inviting? And do they need to be there? Or are there some people that are just superfluous that are going to sit there, and they could actually read the notes afterwards? And then the process that you’re going to run as the meeting owner? And then what’s the product? The most important part to me is, what are we trying to end the meeting with? Is it a document? Is it a decision, and let’s make sure that the meeting gets there at the end. So that was something that we introduced fairly early on, one on ones I think we’re still constantly struggling with and evolving. So having the fellow templates has really helped because there are different things that you can try to accomplish in a one on one. And then we have different structures we introduced called Task Force and Special Ops, so named after the Navy SEALs, when you have cross departmental collaborations, structures that really helped define what the purpose of that cross departmental collaboration is. Task Force is something that’s going to be going on for a longer period of time, as Special Ops is something that we’re going to spin up have a defined goal, and then it we’re going to shut it down. And we’re going to shut down the Slack channels and everything associated when it’s done. So any kind of frameworks that we can introduce to help people contextualize, okay, I’m in this meeting, because it’s a special op, I know what the purpose of this special OP is, I know from the four peas, what the purpose of this meeting within the context of this special OP is, we can really try to drive forward action out of meetings, because you know, a deal maker, we’ve got a lot of a players who are very impatient. And if they have to sit in a long meeting that’s kind of meandering, it doesn’t go well.

Aydin Mirzaee  38:10

It’s really cool to have stuff like that. And the type of language, just one of the things I find is that just having common language, just being able to say something is special officer Task Force, it really allows everybody to get on the same page much faster. And then you start to understand what that means, and what are the principles. So that’s a really, really cool approach. Jeff, one to ask you the same question, which is, you know, how did your meeting policy come together? Who wrote it? And I also wanted to just point out in your as you have a pretty extensive section, just talking about asynchronous work, just extending into many other things that are not meetings. And so yeah, we’d love to hear your perspective as well.

Jeffrey Sullivan 38:49

So for us, it was very much a collaborative effort, we went out, we researched because we knew that we were going into more of a remote setting, we might and we research companies that were remote first to remote only. For many of us, while we had distributed organization, we weren’t really used to being remote. So we really wanted to be intentional about it and look out there are a number of terrific resources online and a bunch of not so helpful ones, but some great resources. GitLab in particular, has an amazing corpus of knowledge around how they work as a fully distributed organization. So we borrowed heavily from a lot of things that were out there in the in the world. But we also looked at what felt right for our particular company culture and the values that we held. And I think that you’d said something earlier, Aiden, that that’s really powerful to me, which is the intentionality of things that explicitly defining your culture rather than allowing it to be defined by accident. Everything happens via inertia unless you exert pressure on things. So we really wanted to be very intentional about this. And so we had a much larger group that we took our senior leadership and our plus ones and plus twos and we feel that a group of people who had the passion and Matthew to your point I want to be more writing first than we are but we knew that this was going to be a very research and writing intensive process to document all of this. So we created something that we call our Grimoire, which is an extensive set of Google Documents. That’s sort of like a wiki. But we had been moving away from I don’t want to name drop, a confluence. But we were moving away from complex at the time we had been adopting Google meat. So we said, we can do this in a set of Google documents. So we have this this folder, which is the Grimoire. And and it’s kind of our codex of everything that we have about processes and people and procedures and projects. And, and part of that was a whole bunch of stuff around how do we work efficiently remotely? How do we intentionally have meetings, you know, what are the key principles that everybody should be following? When they sit in meetings? You know, what do we value and what do we not value? And why? Why is it that we value things like the steel man approach, as opposed to the straw man approach and these kinds of things were put out there in a very intentional and written way? Because we wanted it to be very concrete and specific, as opposed to sort of an oral tradition because that drifts right drifts very quickly. So what we think about when we think about much more of these things being asynchronous was that that strong intentionality to say, look, we’re globally distributed. It’s really hard to find times to get things done synchronously. So how can we be more and more effective a synchronously and it’s 100%, a work in progress. But the advantage for us is that Matthew, much like your group, the Grimoire, is open to editing for everybody, we have sort of a review and approval process. So we kind of we view it as anybody can contribute. But somebody’s going to review that and make sure that it’s kind of consistent with what we have. But we’re very much open to people questioning, why are our policies what they are. And that’s why the Grimoire exists is to explain why, why we value these things, why we believe in X or Y versus an equally valid other approach. And one of the things that I personally believe in is the notion of sort of mental overhead. And there are a variety of different models that you can use for meetings. But what I don’t want people to be doing is spending any mental horsepower, choosing between multiple equally valid ways to do things, I want to say, this is how we do things. And there are other ways that could do them. This is good enough or optimal for us for whatever reason. So this is how you do it. Use your mental energy to be creative within that framework. Rather than coming up with an equally valid but different framework or debating, do we put semicolons or colons, you know, we just have a standard. And that standard frees you up to not worry about the mechanics and worrying more about the content or the creativity. So that’s kind of how we went about this, and very much a living document very much a collaborative process. And we’re constantly evaluating, I would say we eternally fall short of our ideals. But we keep striving in that direction. And the nice thing about the living documents is that everybody’s free to question Is there a better way, but it’s all about proposals. So for us, you propose a way to fix it, you don’t just complain about what’s not working well. And I think that orientation on solutions is one of our core values. And so we try to live it in everything that we do, including how we set our policies, how we evolve our policies, and how we hold each other accountable for living up to those things.

Aydin Mirzaee  43:04

Yeah, that’s awesome. It sounds like it almost works in an open source way you make a request for change, but I can get approved that might not there might be some revisions to it. One question I was gonna ask you, Jeff, is, do you have a sense for whether it’s working? Like how do you know that you’ve been able to make the changes in the culture? It’s always a process? But do you know that you’re making progress?

Jeffrey Sullivan 43:27

The terrific question, and I wish I had a better answer. So we’ve started doing a lot of surveying of our people, right, you know, because it’s all starts anecdotally, with feedback that you’re getting, I do skip levels fairly religiously. I tried to to get through the organization and hear more from people that aren’t my direct reports, or that my senior leadership team. And one of the things that we asked about is what could we be doing better? what’s working well. And so there’s that anecdotal, but we started to do explicit pulse surveys, and other instruments that that allow people in a more anonymous way to get feedback about what’s working well, and what’s not working well. And I would say, there’s definitely momentum in the right direction, I want things to move faster than they do. I always want that. And so I recognize that I’m always going to be sort of eternally dissatisfied. But I want to see progress. And this is the key that I try to promote to my teams is take a moment from time to time and just think back to a year ago and compare it and when when you stop and think about it, you realize how far you’ve come right? When you’re doing a step at a time you don’t notice but sometimes you turn into you look behind you say Oh, I remember when I was way back there and now we’re here. And that can help give you some of that sense of the progress because with incremental improvements, sometimes you can lose track of your progress. So being more intentional about that is important for us. Have we seen improvement in this? Yes. Are we a a synchronous work ninja organization? Absolutely not. We’re still way more heavily reliant on meetings than I would like. And it’s a constant pressure for us to say, how can we be more efficient and effective And this is where I think we find that tools like fellow that allow us to radiate that information takes away certain of these reasons why we weren’t making progress. Some of it was not necessarily FOMO. But I’d like to understand why a decision was made right, and that I liked the idea of the decision register, where I despair is our ability for people, you know, as a multinational organization, we don’t have all English language, native speakers, and some people are much better or worse at writing, right? I happen to love writing, I’m a real strong believer in a writing first idea. We’ve been pushing that, but we have questions of equity and accessibility, and that, that we’re still struggling to figure out what the right solution is. But for me, it’s really about pulling the organization pulling my senior leadership to say, on the one hand, do we feel like we’re more effective? And then how can you justify and quantify that that feeling?

Aydin Mirzaee  45:53

Yeah, that makes sense. And I feel like with all the, you know, the latest and greatest AI models, it’s becoming easier for everyone to become a better writer. So that’s it, just very quickly, you know, maybe like 15 seconds each matter. Rebecca, are you doing the same thing? You’re doing surveys to kind of figure out if there’s progress? Or are you doing something different than that? Maybe Rebecca, first,

Rebecca Kacaba 46:15

we are not, I like the idea of looking back on where you were a year ago, because I can tell you, you know, it was a bigger mess than it is today. But I think survey is a great idea. We just are really just more ad hoc, constantly evolving the process based on what we feel the organization needs. And Matt.

Matthew O’Riordan 46:32

Yeah, we do quite a lot. We run we use culture. So culture and business, we run these internally, across the organization. It’s more of like sort of engagement survey, but it gives us an opportunity by department to surface how people are feeling about everything from culture to the teamwork, productivity, enablement, recognition, all sorts of aspects within the organization. And, yeah, I mean, it’s moving forward. So you can’t I mean, I don’t want to directly attribute our meeting policy as responsible everyone feeling we’ve got to remote first working policy that everyone thinks is really great, or, you know, they’re very productive, because that would be you can’t really think can’t draw those. It’s a number of factors. But what we find is that when they do, people are doing the surveys, they can put in comments about why they said that thing, and often the problems will bubble up, you’ll get some feedback on that. So we do and even at SLC, our senior leadership, I just use a Google spreadsheet of form for the senior leadership every month or two months for about that they just fill in a survey and one of the questions I have is, you know, how effective are we as a senior leadership team, you know, and how we operate. And a lot of that is how we run our meetings, because that’s how we spend most of our time in senior leadership. So that helps us helps me at least have the conversation of why is it efficient or not. And I think fellows IQ played a very big part in in the senior leadership team, because we have every Friday, Thursday, we have to write notes asin for the leadership team about what we want to do and propose agendas. And that’s really helped us just have a bit more structure and push all the stuff that can be done async async. And so yeah, no, we don’t want people to really sort of done a great job, but sort of surveying the team and bubbling that feedback up.

Aydin Mirzaee  48:10

Yeah. Awesome. Awesome. Thank you for sharing. So we have six minutes left, and I want to get through some of the questions from the audience. I’ll start with one from Adam. I think this one is for you, Matt. And it says, Do you have something to annotate the decision as current, for example, an ad on adopting a REST API that then gets replaced with a new direction to dot graph? QL? For example? Yeah, so

Matthew O’Riordan 48:36

at all. So we on the scene, and the PEST analysis. So we have architectural decision variables. That’s where our decision record starts. And then it’s spread into everything across the organization’s each team has their own decision record. Obviously, the idea is an architectural decision record and very poignant in terms of technical No, we don’t, we don’t actually mark them as current. But that’s why we’ve never come across as a problem. But no, we don’t. But it’s a good suggestion. I might, I might often see my readings. Yeah. All

Aydin Mirzaee  49:02

right. So the next question is from Alex. And he says, as a company that is in huge growth spurt mode, and in the midst of launching new features and products, the meetings have skyrocketed to quickly identify risks and make decisions. What is your initial advice, you move forward towards reducing meetings without slowing the work towards a launch? Anyone want to take this one?

Rebecca Kacaba 49:25

I’ll take that one. Because I know exactly like, that’s how we got to too many meetings as well, the growth booms and then everyone’s running around trying to do something. So you got to kind of bring a structure to it. So the first thing we did was every department had a Slack channel, internal Slack channel general on Slack general, there was a submission form. We really tried to push everything into like a standardized way of communicating so that people weren’t just randomly calling meetings for everything. So then you can submit a question to a department like sounds like for risk there. You could submit a question to risk couldn’t get a response versus calling a meeting for it. And then the risk department might have a standard way that they operate like they they reach out to the submitter. But that standard deviation really gives you that framework to control the meeting skyrocket. And fellow in the template meeting templates really helped with that. So making sure that when people are calling a meeting, there’s a specific template that they’re forced to use. Now that

Aydin Mirzaee  50:25

another question was, how did everyone tackle change management? Was there resistance to the meeting policies when trying to put them into place?

Jeffrey Sullivan 50:34

Does anybody not have to struggle with change management? I mean, people are creatures of habit, right? I think the greatest way to fail in any kind of a change in policy is to not explicitly think about your change management. So for us it was we do all hands, we preview things in the all hands, you know, we follow up with leave behinds and real Long’s. We then cascade meetings down to individual groups for small group q&a, because there’s nothing worse than organizational inertia to keep new changes from happening. And so I think the something I learned early on in my career is that you can never over communicate new ideas. And so you start early, you allow for feedback, but you also push very aggressively on moving forward. And there’s a very robust change management that allows you to kind of push that as aggressively as you can. But of course, you’re going to experience inertia and resistance is really just a form of inertia.

Matthew O’Riordan 51:28

If I could just quickly answer that one, though, what was I found interesting about fellow maybe more than other tools we’ve had to roll out is, it feels a bit more viral in nature, because it started with me working with my senior leadership team. And then I do all my meetings with them and our team. And then they in turn, had actions assigned to them that they needed to sort of manage. So they started running their meetings with their team, it didn’t feel like suddenly the whole company to say you have to from Monday, now he wants to move into this tool, they felt more organic and viral and that they would see the benefits of it. And then we didn’t have to convince everyone it would they saw it, it’s quite unique that and most other tools we haven’t had that you have to force it through. So we were, I think, quite lucky that we

Rebecca Kacaba 52:09

saw that too. I totally agree with that with fellow that was one of the reasons, you know, our engineering team wanted it. And I could see how viral it was. I said everybody’s gonna be on this very quickly, because the collaboration is so powerful.

Jeffrey Sullivan 52:22

Yeah, I think you get that pull effect, right? If your manager is using it to work with you, and you’re a people manager, then you want to start habitually using it, and especially, that the tool makes it easy to collaborate in that way. So it produces more of a pull than a push.

Aydin Mirzaee  52:35

Yeah, that’s awesome. That change management is always so hard. And it’s never a one and done. It’s like you can’t go to the gym one time, you just have to keep doing it for a long period of time. So we’re getting to the end, I just wanted to say, you know, thank you, everyone for attending. And thank you, Rebecca, Jeff, and Matt, for doing this. Your insights have been awesome. We’re just at the parting advice section. So just wanted to go to each of you and see if you have any parting advice, final words for all the attendees here? Rebecca, I’ll start with you. Five

Rebecca Kacaba 53:05

Minute pre read, that’s one of the best things I think we do is when everyone comes to a meeting, making sure everyone’s read the material, so you can actually have a productive discussion. Love

Aydin Mirzaee  53:15

it. And Jeff, Rebecca, so

Jeffrey Sullivan 53:17

my thing is that nothing bothers me more than people not doing the homework. So do the homework, you’re there in a meeting for a specific purpose, not necessarily 80% of the time to get updated on something, but to come to a decision of some or other kind. So do the work in advance and don’t have a meeting before you’re ready.

Aydin Mirzaee  53:33

Love it, Matt?

Matthew O’Riordan 53:35

I think maybe Absolutely. When we talk about having lots of people in the meeting, there is a cultural value to having lots of people to read that information as an all hands as an example of something that is, I think, quite important. So that’s a very different purpose for that meeting. And I think there’s cultural value of having those live meetings. But they’re not really meetings, though. They’re still broadcast, but they’re bringing people together. So there’s that. But I think for me, the most important thing is I think people need to come to meetings opinionated for them. To do that you have to be prepared. Because if everyone’s opinionated, you can quickly resolve things if everyone comes to brainstorm with an opinion that they brought beforehand. It’s a very, very ineffective meeting, as far as I’m concerned. That’s great

Aydin Mirzaee  54:10

advice. This has been awesome. Thank you all for attending. And thank you to our panelists. This has been great. And we’re obviously going to distribute the recording and so we’ll share this widely, very soon. But thank you all for attending. And we’ll see you next time. Thank you. Thanks, everybody. Thanks, everyone.

Aydin Mirzaee  54:30

And that’s it for today. Thank you so much for tuning into this episode of the Supermanagers podcast. You can find the show notes and transcript at If you liked the content, be sure to rate review and subscribe so you can get notified when we post the next episode. And please tell your friends and fellow managers about it. It’d be awesome if you can help us spread the word about the show. See you next time.

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