Onsite offsite

Problem statement

It can be hard to base product vision purely on sprint planning and short, routine meetings.

I see a lot of work invested in quarterly planning, but not a lot of time reviewing.

Information can also be silo'd if only one person on the team is looking at performance metrics.

Solution

Meet as a team once a quarter or so.

Assign homework:

Meet somewhere novel, but convenient.

Assign facilitators to take notes and run meetings.

Agenda:

  1. Retro and review working agreement
  2. Pitch blog posts
  3. Identify and vote on themes
  4. Draft goals
  5. Dinner

OKR review

The goal is for everyone to try and assess product health. Do we have the metrics we need? What's important? Are eng goals aligned with product goals?

Competitive analysis

This is my favorite, since it's wide open. What are we doing well or poorly? Does anyone else do it better? What would be fun to build? Any evidence there's a market for it?

Blog post

This provides space to ground ideas. How would we announce the thing I'm proposing we build? Who is the audience? What's the effect?

Novel location

This is where the "onsite offsite" name comes from. It's like an offsite, but since the focus is on the team and the content confidential, it should probably be somewhere work-related. A different floor or building is sufficient. Ideally, it's near a nice cafe or has a good view.

Facilitator

It's a long day, so preassigning someone to take notes, book rooms, etc removes a few decisions in advance.

Distributed teams can assign facilitators per location.

Agenda

Sitting and focusing for a few hours can be intense, so build in breaks.

Retro

Several months of experience is a good amount of time to retrospect over.

I like the 6 thinking hats approach.

Working agreement

I really appreciate my team's practice of periodically agreeing on shared values and practices.

Pitch

Go around the table pitching blog posts. Teammates can ask questions.

Themes

Sticky notes on a whiteboard are sufficient. It's also an excuse to move a bit.

Vote

Each person can vote on, say, 3 themes, eg by writing initials next to themes.

Facilitators aggregate.

Goals

Formulating formal OKRs is ambitious, but OKRs should align roughly with team vision, as indicated by winning themes.

Dinner

It's a long day, so the goal is just for the team to refuel and unwind.

Feedback

Thoughts? Suggestions? Hit me up @erikeldridge

License

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