Meeting Philosophy in practice

Nicolas Pellissier
Nov 13, 2020 · 5 min read

How we have managed to launch concrete actions inspired by our meeting philosophy

A few weeks ago, we wrote down the Back Market’s meeting philosophy. Since we’re pragmatic people, we’ve worked to make this philosophy as concrete as possible to maximize the impact on our day-to-day routines.

In this article, we’re sharing 4 concrete actions we’ve launched in recent months.

1A kick-off presentation sharing why we ask for more efficient meetings (basically for the good of everyone’s calendar and productivity).

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Extract of our kick-off presentation

Since then, this pitch deck is now presented to every newly hired Back Maker during their onboarding.

2 Condensing the guidelines to an easy mnemonic.

People want to follow the guidelines, but they can’t be expected to remember every detail right away.
After giving the long explanation and the why: we shared a shortened version that would be easy to remember.

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Example of mnemonic

3Tracking small steps.
We asked everyone to perform small, easy, and measurable actions so we could track team adoption while also creating a positive mental feedback loop in everyone’s minds (like a small voice on repeat saying “reduce meetings, make meetings efficient, reduce meetings…”).

Below are a few of the initiatives we’ve put in place for Back Makers:

  • Use meeting names to ID the meeting type when putting one in the schedule (Share, Design, Decide, Dream).
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  • Set up the “Speedy Meetings” feature on Google Calendar. This small feature is a revolution: it helps us reduce meeting times by 10% automatically and allows us to be on time for meetings that follow.
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  • Keeping meetings. Back Makers are discouraged from postponing scheduled meetings if someone is suddenly unavailable. This saves time spent booking and preparing for the meeting, and in the end, the meeting’s notes are sent to everyone anyway. (Of course, in the case of a DECIDE meeting, if the decision-maker is unavailable, the meeting is naturally postponed.)
  • Launching “Productive Day” — a day each week when Back Makers are all invited to have zero meetings.
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Obviously, we tolerate some exceptions (as with every “rule” at Back Market, nothing is 100% mandatory and things are taken on a case-by-case basis but it’s great to have a general framework to work with). Of course, business comes first, and Back Makers have the flexibility to meet if there’s an urgent matter, even if it’s Productive Day.

Similarly, we are also more flexible with external meetings, to avoid imposing on partners or interviewees.

4 Lead by example: Ambassadors

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Our fantastic BackMarket team of Ambassadors

People need to be motivated regularly. To make sure the initiatives were adopted, we asked for volunteers from each team to serve as Meeting Ambassadors. These Ambassadors actively help maintain our meeting culture throughout the whole company.

5What we should do better: measuring results and rewarding them

Create KPIs to measure results

With the Google Calendar API, we can gather data from public Back Maker invitations. These are the KPIs we are in the process of creating:

  • % of meetings with more than 8 attendees (to check if the 2 pizza rule is followed)
  • % of meetings with correct format/content (% of invitation where names starting with “SHARE, DECIDE, …”, invitation with a description, a Zoom link, a document link…)
  • % of meetings refused (measuring if Back Makers are really free to refuse invitations and linked this KPI to “% of meeting with good content”, we expect a high % of refusal in case of meeting with poor content)
  • # of meetings per day (with a focus especially on Productive day)
  • % time spent in a meeting per week

We think we should also look at the attendees' satisfaction:

  • R.O.T.I. method (as for “Returns On Time Invested”) asking the attendees to vote from 1 (I clearly wasted my time) to 5 (it was really useful, I would have been a shame if I wasn’t there)
  • Random satisfaction survey on our meetings policy to gather and test new and creative ideas

Clarify good behaviors and reward them

We’d like to create a virtuous circle encouraging people to better follow our guidelines. To do so, we intend to put the spotlight on people who have great “meeting KPIs” and publicly congratulate them (with an - asynchronous - Wall of Fame for example). We could also ask these people to publish some testimonials that highlight their personal motivations and gains.

We also plan to incentivize people to refuse invitations when they don’t understand what value they’d bring to the meeting or if they see that the meeting runs counter to the company’s meeting philosophy (for instance, when I see more than 8 participants in a meeting, I challenge the meeting owner about the role of each attendee). One way to do so would be by creating a playbook that explains when invitations should be refused and how it can be done politely and professionally.

In the roll-out of such actions, our ambassadors will have a key role in spreading these best practices among the teams and to identify room for improvement.

At the moment, we still lack data on the efficiency of these 4 actions, but we hope to have more in the coming weeks. Once that’s in, I’ll write another article which details our wins and our failures.

Stay tuned!
With love ❤,

Jérôme (Jérôme Dumont) and Nicolas (Nicolas Pellissier)
Meeting haters

Back Market Engineering

Creative engineers building a less wasteful world …

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