The secret: Flip your meeting to move your product forward.
I’ve run product analytics meetings for startups like Dailymotion, Serious Eats, and Unigo, as well as brands like TED back when we first launched TED.com. When I joined Behance in its early days, one of the first things I did was implement a weekly product analytics meeting covering Behance, ProSite, and our suite of mobile apps. Since our acquisition by Adobe, we’ve expanded these meetings to encompass products like Adobe Talent.
These experiences led me to develop a counterintuitive strategy for making these meetings successful:
Don’t review product data during your meeting.
The most common way to run an analytics meeting is for a group to gather around and look at data dashboards. You’ll hear lots of comments like this:
“Hmm, I wonder why that trend is going down?”
“Up and to the right! We must be doing something right!”
The problem with these meetings is that it is remarkably difficult to accomplish anything. Since you are reviewing the data for the first time, any interesting progress is perpetually postponed to the subsequent meeting when you can follow up on your inevitable questions.
There is a better way. Flipping the classroom is a notion gaining traction in the world of education:
In flip teaching, the students first study the topic by themselves, typically using video lessons prepared by the teacher or third parties. In class students apply the knowledge by solving problems and doing practical work.
To run a successful product analytics meeting, you have to flip the meeting by having your team study the data in advance.
Meetings are notoriously costly, so this advance prep work means you hit the ground running at the start of the meeting.
Your conversations will start to sound more like this:
“I noticed that sales were trending down towards the end of the quarter. I asked our head of sales Jackie to join this meeting to discuss what we can do to fix that.”
“As everyone saw in the deck, our latest A/B experiment was inconclusive. Sarah is going to present alternative designs for us to test.”
The beauty of these flipped meeting is that you use your time together solving problems instead of analyzing data. And since product development is ultimately an exercise in iterative problem solving, flipping your meeting allows you to actually move your product forward.
So if you want to run a great product analytics meeting, make sure to distribute all your data and dashboards in advance. Then use your time together to accomplish your real goal: improve your product.