We just threw away a regular meeting. And no one is missing it (yet). How on Earth did we do a meeting that apparently no one needed? Don’t worry—all went according to plan. Here is why.

Our meetings, before

We’re a remote team, but we’re not fully asynchronous. Here were our regular team meetings, and how often they occured:

  • Monday, every week. We play board games. Originally only the tech team, now everyone. After the game, the tech team syncs up. This takes an hour. Read more about why we play boardgames here.
  • Thursday, every week: The tech team syncs up. This takes about 15 minutes, but can take longer if there is something that is more efficient to be discussed in person.
  • Friday, every other week: The whole company looks at the numbers for the past week, at customer feedback, how the product changed, what projects are upcoming.

Bye Thursday Meeting

And now: no more Thursday meeting. No one is sad (so far). Guess we didn’t need it. How did we even start this meeting? Here is the rule of thumb we often (seem to) use:

Let’s try and see how it goes.

Whenever there is no obvious way to decide, you can discuss forever, research forever, but at some point you’ve to decide something, start with something. When the team in its current constellation was new,
we figured communicating a bit more was a good thing. So, we set up those two meetings. And it seemed to work fine. That’s the “let’s try” part.

 … and see how it goes

A few weeks back I noticed that we sort of go through the motions.

Monday? Boardgames.
Thursday? Meeting.
Friday? Maybe meeting.

Maybe it’s just boredom, but I like challenging habits:

Whenever you do things out of habit for a while, it’s healthy to ask if that habit still serves you.

And in particular meeting habits … wow, meetings are soooo wasteful. (That’s why some remote teams don’t do them at all.) Better have a close look at those meetings. That’s the “and see how it goes” part. Which we tend to forget.

When you suspect a meeting might be useless what you do is really simple. You drop it. After a few weeks you ask. If no one misses it, well, there is your answer.

If you start missing the meeting (what, you miss _meetings_?) then it might still be a good idea to ask *why*. Because you did try to throw it away. That kind of suggests something is off. You might ask yourselves: What did the meeting give us? Is there an asynchronous way to do this? Or at least a faster way?

How to Tidy up Habits

So, here is a mini process to tidy up your habits.

When you start a new habit, like a meeting or a mail that everyone sends, schedule a challenge. A challenge is simply someone asking: so, did this work? Do we still need this?

If you’re not sure you need the habit, try removing it. Again, schedule a challenge.

How do you schedule a challenge? If you’re afraid you’ll forget, you might use a calendar or a TODO list. Or, you simply do one when you feel like you’re stuck in a rut. That’s always a good time to pause.

The second time, the challenge is: do you miss it: the meeting, the mail, whatever you stopped doing?

If you do, figure out what exactly you’re missing—you tried throwing it away, so there is something wrong. Reinstate a better version. Try, again, and then see how it goes.