On this page, we're detailing how to create efficient, transparent, documentation-based meetings leveraging GitLab's proven principles. This style of meeting increases cohesion, discipline, and transparency regardless of the work environment.
"No agenda, no attenda." Every work-related meeting should have a live doc agenda affixed to the calendar invite. To better understand how GitLab utilizes agenda docs, here's a templated example you can copy and use in your organization. Coffee chats are excluded from this given their function in informal communication.
If you determine that a meeting is needed to move a project forward, address a blocker, or resolve a miscommunication, follow the proven principles below.
Contextsection includes: The goal(s) of the meeting; clear pre-work or pre-watch/read instructions; intent and expected outcomes using low-context communication.
Establishing a culture where team members are cognizant that they work with others who may be in a different location, or unable to attend a meeting live, is critical. Documentation is a vital part of avoiding team dysfunction.
Improving your meeting hygiene can start by shifting to live doc meetings. It is a relatively simple step, and tends to create an understanding of the value of documentation. If you're looking for a place to start in capturing teamwide buy-in on documentation, consider adding agendas to all work-related meetings and insist on live documentation during them.
Not all meetings are inherently bad. We encourage managers to establish regular 1:1 meetings with their team, for example. There are instances where a brief synchronous chat can replace multiple hours of asynchronous work. Strategically leveraging sync and async is an art, not a science.
Many meetings can be avoided by understanding how to work well asynchronously.
A live doc meeting is a GitLab specialty. It's a work-related meeting (e.g. not a coffee chat) where you document everything live (yes, everything)! Start documenting before the meetings begins by attaching a shared, editable agenda document to the calendar invite.
Here is a sample template for a live doc meeting. Be sure to create a new Google Doc and attach a link to your live doc with every calendar invite. Please do not use Google Calendar's automatic agenda/notes creation function, as it does not adhere to GitLab's preferred agenda flow. Include the agenda for the meeting, set the appropriate sharing permissions, and add instructions for expected engagement (in
Context section) so team members understand how to contribute whether they attend synchronously or asynchronously.
A live document is a document that may continually be edited and updated. Examples could include a shared Google doc, whiteboard being used by a team for collaboration, or GitLab's handbook.
There are two ways to participate in a live doc meeting: either synchronously, like when joining a live Zoom call, or asynchronously, by reviewing the documented discussion along with any recorded video after the meeting is over.
Live doc meetings are usually held in the host's time zone. However, leaders should rotate meetings to accommodate a more diverse array of time zones as well as record them so that others can watch at a later time.
Live doc meetings can happen fully in-person, fully online, or a on hybrid call — which is a blend of both. It's best to have everyone on a level playing field for communication and discussion, so hybrid calls should be avoided. If a hybrid call is necessary, have participants use their own equipment (camera, headset, screen) to avoid audio problems from delays and feedback.
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