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By: Tanya Newell

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January 29th, 2018

Meetings Suck. Here’s How We Do Them Differently.

Teams

Prior to joining Stride, I hated meetings. Meetings were boring, time-consuming, and nothing useful ever came out of them. Needless to say, when my first day at Stride was the quarterly company all-day meeting, I was feeling a bit anxious. That day, however, changed my whole outlook on meetings.
Here is why Stride’s Quarterly Company Meeting is different:

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1. The chance to learn new things

I look forward to our quarterly meetings because I always learn something new. The day opens up with our leadership team sharing the latest company happenings and policy updates, which are typically pretty exciting since everyone at the company has so much say in them.


In the past few meetings, we have also brought in a guest speaker from one of our clients, who would share their unique experience of working with Striders. This provides valuable insight into how our clients view us and supplies us with ideas on how we can be more effective.


Another recent addition was the Ask Me Anything session, with the last two being our CEO and President answering all sorts of questions, ranging from serious to hilariously ridiculous. This is a great way to get to know our leadership team on a more personal level.

 

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2. Engaging discussions

One of the key components of these meetings are the open space sessions. The sessions give us a chance to participate in hot topic discussions. First, the topics are suggested, then voted on and given a 45 minute time slot. Each slot offers a chance to participate in one of 5 sessions discussing the topic most interesting to each Strider. Each open space discussion closes with action items ensuring that the time is well-spent and acted on. These open space sessions are one of the key reasons Stride is what it is today. They give us a chance to flesh out and communicate our ideas to the company. They ensure that everybody has a voice and that voice is heard.

 

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3. Tangible outcome

The open space action items will each get an owner. The owner will be responsible for following up and acting on the generated ideas. As a result, groups may form to further explore the ideas, which may result in company improvements, like the following:

 

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  • Diversity Committee — created last year and partly responsible for the steady % increase of women developers at Stride.

 

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  • Monthly Socials — highly anticipated events, which became a staple of Stride culture! Some of our recent outings have included the scavenger hunt at the MET, Escape the Room, and a day trip to the Rockaway Beach.

 

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  • Lean Coffees — monthly in-depth discussions on an upvoted topic that resulted in some really cool things like the addition of a new rank of Mid3s! More on Lean Coffees here.

 

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  • Volleyball team — our first co-ed team starts playing in January 2018!

Post meeting, we each show a fist of fives as our evaluation of the meeting, with one finger meaning the ‘biggest waste of time’ and five the ‘best meeting ever!’, and discuss what it would take to get it to a five. About a week later, our talented office manager (and the main organizer of these company meetings) sends out a meeting recap. The recap gives recognition to all the organizers, facilitators, and presenters, includes a link to the shared drive with all the open session visuals, and distributes the meeting survey.

 

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 4. Structured Lessons

One of the reasons I used to hate meetings was the lack of structure. People came unprepared, wasting time getting up to speed, so meetings would run over. At Stride, the quarterly meetings are highly structured and efficient thanks to our organizers and facilitators. It also helps that these meetings take place in off-site spaces specifically designed for professional events. These spaces come equipped with a kitchen and a number of rooms, making them ideal for talks and open session discussions.

 

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 5. Social time

Despite the structure, we still get to have fun. A much-anticipated part of Stride’s quarterly meetings is the social aspect. One of the downsides of consulting is that we don’t get a chance to work with our fellow Striders as much as we would like. So these all-day company meetings are a really good way to do that, especially over the catered breakfasts, lunches, and at delicious post-meeting dinners at local restaurants.
It does take a lot of effort to put these meetings together and make them productive. A company needs to invest time and resources in order to make all of this happen and I am glad that Stride does. And as a result, we are able to come together to learn from each other and generate new ideas to continuously improve the company. And doesn’t that sound like the kind of company you would want to work for?

Originally posted on Hackernoon.

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