The Meta Meta Meta Meeting: Why it’s a Good Idea to Have One Sometimes

Earlier this week we met as a whole team to look at the next steps in our L.A.B. process and finalize some tasks so we could get started. At least that’s why I thought we were meeting.

Demetrio and I have already done a ton of setting up our L.A.B. process this year. So far we’ve introduced it, developed a matrix for goal setting, defined how we apply the Agile Method to our process, and started mapping stories. In Agile for web development, we write stories to define a user’s experience with a website. So he and I started writing tasks lists in spreadsheets — you know, like a lot of us do when we’re starting something new. Little did we know we were sliding into old bad habits.

On Monday we brought our work to the team hoping to dive right in.

And no one got it.

It was so overwhelming we had to take a step back — then another, and another. Frustrating to some at first, but enlightening to everyone by the end.

Keep in mind we’re doing something a little crazy here:

  1. We’re using our Agile Method for building websites, complete with all of its crazy vocabulary and software as a method to build a better business.
  2. We’re building this method for future clients, while running it on ourselves, while writing about it as we go.
  3. We’re executing a marketing strategy, while building a marketing strategy, while we’re building the L.A.B. process.

It’s all very meta.

LEVELS, BABY, LEVELS

So naturally, our meeting turned into something way bigger. First, instead of getting right down to assigning tasks (which as a type A person I love doing), we had to stop and and re-define the process and vocabulary for what we are doing. That took a while, because to me a lot of the Agile vocabulary sounds convoluted and I like to keep things as simple as possible. Now “Possible Success Factors” became “benefits” and Critical Success Actions became “Actions.” Don’t worry, Agile devotees, we’re building a translation list right now.

When were doing that, I raised other issues I had with the process overall. So we had to take another step back and address the stresses and concerns I, as the “client” and current clients have with this Method. At the beginning it all sounds so theoretical, it’s hard to see the value in it. But I’ve seen it work so I trust it, while most people haven’t. It’s hard as a Type A business owner to hold back the urge to jump in right away and start fixing things. How much of this theorizing and planning would we let clients in on? As much as they wanted? Probably. Definitely some bits. We’re still working it out.

Then to get even more meta, we took the discussion to another level altogether to talk about why we are doing this in the first place.

Here’s the reason: No one sees the whole picture of how the business works except for me. As the Product Owner, I’m attempting to bring everyone together to see that big picture and allow everyone in the company to have a stake in the direction of the company. When we break apart and overlap our job descriptions and work towards a common goal a few things happen:

  • People build empathy and become better citizens
  • People find ways to help other
  • Morale builds

That’s what the Agile Method does so well in a web build and that’s why it makes sense to apply it here. I don’t operate by decree, and as a B Corporation, real management transparency is important.

To recap, here are the levels of our Mega Meta Meeting in order:

  1. Do some stuff, and also
  2. Develop a model to do some stuff, and also
  3. Talk about who this model is for, and also
  4. Talk about why we are doing this at all

And guess what? Everyone agreed. We’re all in it together. Already, when I’m looking at my goal of retaining employees and keeping the band together, this is a good way to start.

I think we’re onto something here.

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