The E-Group offsite happens every quarter. It is usually four days after the Board of Directors meeting.
The goal is to have 25 or 50 minute discussions around topics that benefit from in-person dialogue, require more context and where the E-Group is likely to disagree. The agenda should include discussions that are:
Executives are committed to working through difficult discussions and problems during the event. They commit to being active participants by proposing topics to the agenda before hand and being executive sponsors for those discussion topics. They establish criteria for success for the discussion topics by, for example, identifying decisions to be made or establishing clarity on what the next steps need to be. If decisions need to be made to stop, continue, or change discussion when there is disagreement on path forward, the decision is responsibility of the topic executive sponsor.
The CEO Shadows are responsible for taking thorough notes throughout the event, so that the E-Group can be focused on the discussion. CEO Shadows will also tasked with making Merge Requests on behalf of an Executive. Please follow the below outlined process for announcing and merging the changes.
The Chief of Staff to the CEO or other team member is responsible for facilitating the event. They will work with the EBA closely to ensure the event runs smoothly. The CoS to the CEO is the on-the-ground person ensuring that the event is kept on-schedule, discussions are kept on-subject, helping steer the conversation when necessary, guiding conversations towards action items, and ensuring that implementation is about 50% of time.
The Staff Executive Business Administrator to the CEO is responsible for organizing and coordinating the Offsite, including travel, lodging, agendas, and meals.
Since most of the E-Group is in the San Francisco Bay Area, we usually go to a location close to a member of the E-Group that is drivable or a short direct flight; for example: San Francisco, Tahoe, Sonoma. The E-Group offsite can also be hosted at the house of the CEO. The EBA to the CEO is responsible for booking the hotel and meeting rooms for the people attending in person. The EBA to the CEO is responsible for sending out the calendar invites associated to each meeting in the agenda, one calendar entry per meeting, with unique Zoom links for the meeting when the attendees change. If the CEO is traveling, the CoS to the CEO (preferred) or the EBA to the CEO should work with the CEO to bring the Owl.
Hybrid calls are hard, but occasionally the Offsite will need to take a hybrid meeting form. When this is the case, the EBA to the CEO will ensure that the calendar invites for the offsite sessions include Zoom links. The Zoom links should have a waiting room attached to it since the Zoom URL is on calendars and is discoverable internally. This also allows the E-Group to pull in folks as-needed into the room without switching Zoom rooms, as people won't just jump in and out without being noticed or before the E-Group is ready to move onto that subject.
We hosted the June 2022 E-Group Offsite meetings at the house of the CEO in San Francisco. When hosting at this location, the following guidelines apply.
The EBA to the CEO will coordinate with on-site contact of the house and collaborate on all details taking place at the house. This includes:
The maximum attendees that can fit in the main room is 16, however, if additional attendees are needed in the main room, coordinate with the on-site contact to secure additional accommodations such as an extra table, chairs, etc… and share which meetings this would be needed for.
AV Equiptment is stored at the house. The following items are on-site:
It is recommended that someone arrive an hour before the first meeting on the first day to set up the AV Equipment, as well as ~30 minutes before the first meeting on subsequent days to ensure everything is logged in appropriately. The EBA to the CEO should coordinate sharing the needed passwords for the AV Equipment from the CEO to the person who is setting up the equipment in case the accounts have been logged out. These passwords are for the Zoom Rooms account, the iCloud account, and the iPad. The AV Equipment is on a cart with wheels and can be moved into the room where needed. It is recommended to set up the cart at the head of the table, placing the main speaker/microphone in the center of the table while placing the expansion mics towards the two heads of the table.
The off-site is a quarterly meeting scheduled over 4 days (including travel time). The offsite meeting should take place during the second or third month of the quarter to avoid conflicts with Sales QBRs and occurs after quarterly Board of Director meetings and post quarterly earning calls. Scheduling for the in-person event generally follows:
E-Group is welcome to fly in early or stay later pending their travel preferences.
Scheduling for a fully remote offsite generally follows:
E-Group Offsites typically happen at the start of the last month of the quarter. The timeline has the following benefits:
While we have chosen not to do so to date, we have explored moving E-Group Offsites to the first two weeks of the quarter. While this would bump up against key start of quarter activities and limit our ability to plan for the coming quarter, reasons for doing this include:
The E-Group offsite generally occurs in:
The following dates have been confirmed for future E-Group offsites (starting dates):
The following dates were previous E-Group offsites (starting dates):
While E-Group Offsites often happen about two months in advance of Board Meetings, we reserve time to discuss upcoming Board Meeting topics during each offsite.
Because the Offsite is a very expensive meeting, we want to be sure we are as efficient as possible. One of the ways we do this is by asking participants to do prep work ahead of time.
Examples of prep work include:
Anyone who is presenting for a topic should share materials with the prep work.
Prep work should be shared at least 1 business day before. EBAs should be cc'd, as some execs may want time carved out on their calendars for the review.
There are a number of reasons why participants are invited to join specific Offsite meetings. These can range from giving team members a chance for greater context to expecting an invited participant to lead a discussion. Before you attend the Offsite, please:
We take notes in a Google Doc that contains the SSoT of the agenda. At least 1 month prior, the doc is created and proposed topics for discussion should be added to the bottom of the doc. Each proposed topic should include a clear definition of what we are trying to achieve in the discussion (a decision made, a chance for E-Group to give feedback, etc.). E-Group sponsors are responsible for providing context to team members who they plan to include in discussion preparation or participation. This could take the form of a 15 minute meeting to align on goals for the discussion and what material should be prepared in advance. (The CoS to the CEO will pull from here when prioritizing and planning.) Please add links to relevant materials, issues, or proposals up front. When there is an issue or doc linked, we take notes there, instead of in the overall doc. There is a doc template that can be used as a starting point.
If we can conclude a topic early we move on to one from a reserve list. The CoS to the CEO is responsible for maintaining the schedule, optimizing discussion schedules for energy levels, and having topics prepared.
The agenda will guide conversations. If an E-Group member wants to speak, the team member should put thoughts in the agenda. In instances where the comment cannot be typed out, for reasons of confidentiality or given time constraints in typing out the comment, the member can type out: [INSERT NAME:!]. This serves a time placeholder for the team member, so the team member can contribute at the appropriate point in the agenda.
We will document agreed changes directly to the handbook and any other relevant SSoT during the meeting. Every item will get a MR maker and MR reviewer assigned. Most of the time the MR maker will be the CoS to the CEO, one of the CEO shadows, or the EBA to the CEO. When the MR is ready, the reviewer is at-mentioned in the public E-Group channel in Slack. The reviewer communicates with the maker via that Slack thread. The goal is to merge it the same day, preferably within 15 minutes.
We have communication guidelines to enable more efficient and productive conversations:
If you are the person who owns a topic, you are responsible for:
There are some topics discussed at every E-Group offsite. These include:
We agreed to E-Group team norms at our 2022-01 offsite. In our discussions, we'll consider the following:
Break periods are scheduled into the agenda by the CoS to the CEO and should follow these guidelines:
Every discussion should start by clarifying "What decision needs to be made from this?"
All follow up actions need to be captured as to-dos, noted with
TODO Person in the doc.
If there is not an exec's name tied to the to-do, it belongs to the CEO Shadows/and or the CoS to the CEO.
Before emphasizing follow ups, many conclusions never landed and/or resulted into action.
Follow ups can take the form of an:
CEO Skips are a key leadership team that plays a key role in identifying and realizing business opportunities. CEO Skip input is valuable in the lead up to meetings, and CEO Skip collaboration is key for cascading efforts that follow.
In advance of the offsite, E-Group members are expected to connect with their team leadership to identify possible agenda topics, get input into specific topics, and share an overview of what is being discussed. The goal is not to waste an opportunity for broader input and insight from the broader leadership team. The CEO-Skip team should arrive at our CEO Skip Zoom call already having an understanding of some of key items that were discussed.
In the week following the Offsite, there is a 25-minute Zoom call before 12pm Pacific time for the CEO Skips Group. This time will not work for everyone. The meeting will be privately recorded via Zoom and linked in the meeting agenda.
The goal of this call is to communicate:
The Agenda will be organized by meeting topics. Designated CEO Skip team members who led or participated in specific sessions may be asked to provide written summaries and flag highlights. CEO Skip team members should review the meeting material in advance of the meeting. They can put their comments and questions below each summary. We will run through the agenda during the meeting.
CEO Skips play a key role in cascading what is happening in the business and communicating key implications for teams and team members. After each CEO Skip Meeting, CEO Skip members should:
This Zoom call is a separate invite. The EBA to the CEO is responsible for setting up the invite, the doc for the call, and inviting CEO Skips. The CoS to the CEO will moderate the call.
The CoS to the CEO is responsible for meeting material. The CoS to the CEO will share the meeting recap material no later than 72 business hours after the offsite concludes and at least 48 hours in advance of the CEO-Skips Meeting. Material will include an event summary and a highlight video message from the CEO. The highlight video is intended to set context async as we do not present in the meeting. All materials will be signed off on by the legal team in advance of sharing.
A version of the notes shared with CEO Skips will be shared with all team members within 4 business days of a CEO Skips Meeting. The CoST to the CEO prepares materials excluding CEO-Skip Q&A or any material non-public information and shares them in the #company-fyi-private Slack Channel. CEO-Skips are encouraged to discuss relevant information within their teams. You can think of the materials shared with all team members as a "Meeting in a Box."
The debrief for the 2021-06-29 to 2021-06-30 E-Group Offsite was conducted async. This was because this was a shorter offsite, so there was less information to share.
The offsite includes a 30 minute to 1 hour discussion on material chosen by the CEO. This could be a book, article, recording, or other artifact. The selection will be finalized no less than two weeks prior to the offsite. At the time that the selection is shared, the CEO will also share three conversation topics. E-Group team members are expected to come to the discussion prepared to discuss these prompts.
We will share discussion highlights and takeaways in E-Group Offsite meeting notes that are shared with all team members. This also allows team members to engage in the conversation.
Team Members may expense E-Group offsite material in the quarter that it is discussed.
Material that the E-Group finds noteworthy should be added to the Leadership Books.