Develop a Meeting Rhythm

At Pardot, we worked hard to develop a consistent meeting rhythm. As the business grew, communication and alignment became harder and harder. The effort necessary to get everyone on the same page at 50 employees was significantly more than when we were 5 employees. As such, we were constantly testing out the frequency and types of meetings.

Here’s the meeting rhythm we used:

  • Daily Check-in – We held a 10 minute scrum every morning at 9:30am where we answered the following questions: what did you accomplish yesterday, what are you going to do today, and do you have any roadblocks.
  • Weekly Leadership Meeting – We reviewed the weekly KPIs from the prior week and talked about key topics in the business that could be addressed in 15 minutes or less. Topics requiring more than 15 minutes were tabled for the monthly strategy dinner.
  • Weekly All-Hands Meeting – Every Monday 30 minutes before lunch we’d have an all-hands meeting with everyone in the company (people working remotely would join via a Google Hangout) and talk about anything of note from the prior week. The meeting would be followed immediately by a catered lunch for everyone.
  • Monthly Strategy Dinner – Each month the leadership team met at a different private restaurant room for three hours and made decision about big topics as well as talked through issues that were put on the parking lot at the weekly leadership meeting.
  • Quarterly One Page Strategic Plan Off-site – Each quarter we’d take a day off-site and put the simplified one page strategic plan together for the next quarter.
  • Quarterly Celebration – Each quarter we got out of the office and celebrated as a team (e.g. a baseball game, picnic, etc).

While this meeting rhythm kept us getting together for different reasons at a fairly frequent pace, it didn’t feel overwhelming and was incredibly effective for growing the business. Meeting rhythms vary from company to company and I recommend being intentional about the frequency and types of meetings.

What else? What are some more thoughts on developing a meeting rhythm?

2 thoughts on “Develop a Meeting Rhythm

  1. Excellent post…it’s uncanny (or maybe not) that we (Quickparts) had essentially the same schedule for rhythm as you listed here. From daily huddles to Quarterly reviews AND celebrations.

    Interestingly, in my coaching to entrepreneurs, Rhythm is one of the first things I suggest the CEO implement. It’s easy to implement and can have a dramatic effect on communication. HOWEVER, it typically is short lived due to the excuse of “being too busy” or “Bill doesn’t like it” or “we need to spend that time with our customer” or some other lame excuse.

    It reiterates the importance of DISCIPLINE to be willing to do the Right Things in the Right Way at the Right Time.

    Great Job David!

  2. Nice post. I have no shortage of thoughts here so here’s a longer comment ….

    Meeting cadence completely depends on size. Early on at Bronto, we had one all-hands meeting Monday morning and we seemed to go out to lunch together all the time so that worked. As we grew, the meetings got more focused and less frequent — and functional teams and sub-functional teams developed their own cadence.

    Now, at 300 with multiple sites, we follow this cadence:

    * 90-minute weekly “pulse meeting” with the SLT (senior leadership team). We cover everything from a shared Google Doc agenda. We focus on progress in the quarter and any new developments.
    * Monthly “Lunch and Learn” for everyone in Durham. This is primarily social and light. It is focused around the location. Back in the day, we used to do this weekly. That became unrealistic and unproductive as we got bigger.
    * Quarterly All Bronto (QAB). We do this once a quarter for the company in a nearby rented out theater. This is three hours and businessy. We cover our results against the past quarter, goals for next quarter, roadmap, etc. We videotape these and distribute them to folks in other offices to watch and get on the same page.
    * Quarterly Sales Kickoff. These are two/three day offsite for the sales organization to get sales training, review new products, etc.
    * Semi-annual “Meeting of the Minds”. This is two/three day offsite, twice a year, for client services and engineering teams. This has organized socials and presentations to educate everyone on all the projects that everyone is working on.
    * Quarterly Business Review. This is a deep dive on all aspects of the business, done every quarter (obviously!), with VPs and Directors participating.
    * Annual Planning, starting in October and taking a couple months.
    * And more (weekly smaller team meetings, regular customer/revenue/offering/people/… tribe meetings, weekly afterwork “occupy bronto” social, …)

    Of course, all of this is complete overkill for a startup. But, Bronto started very small and, with time, evolved from having a weekly everybody meeting to much more — and it has been really helpful.

    I was resistant to much of the planning and regular meetings at first but I have learned how critically important to keep everyone on the same page while scaling up. Regular meeting cadnece is good, keeps everyone on track, and makes life easier.

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