The E-group offsite happens every quarter for four days.
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 or other team member is responsible for facilitating the event. They will work with the Staff EBA closely to ensure the event runs smoothly. The CoS 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'll go to a location that is drivable or a short direct flight, for example: East Bay, Denver, Sonoma. We tend to pick a location at or close to a member of the e-group. If the CEO is traveling, the CoS (preferred) or the CEO Shadows (backup) should bring the Owl.
Hybrid calls are hard, but occassionally the Offsite will need to take a hybrid meeting form. When this is the case, the Staff. EBA to the CEO will ensure that the calendar invite for the Zoom offsite includes a Zoom link. The Zoom link 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.
COVID-19 has lead GitLab to suspend all non-essential travel. That includes the e-group offsite.
In the circumstance of a fully remote e-group offsite, instead of 2.5 days of in-person meetings, the e-group offsite occurs over 4 all-remote half-day sessions. This is because some people may find Zoom makes the meeting more intense. The All-Directs follow up call will happen on the business day immediately following the final inclusion.
The off-site is a quarterly meeting scheduled over 4 days (including travel time). The meeting should take place during the second or third month of the quarter to avoid conflicts with Sales QBRs and ideally occur before quarterly Board of Director meetings. Scheduling for the event generally follows:
E-Group is welcome to fly in early or stay later pending their travel preferences.
It generally occurs in:
In 2020, the following offsite dates have been confirmed (starting dates):
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.
A data team member is available on-call during the offsite. The CoS gives the data team a heads up at least two weeks before, so that they data team can plan appropriately.
A finance business partner is available during offsite agenda sessions related to reviews of the financials or budgets. The CoS gives the finance team exec admin and fp&a team a heads up at least two weeks before, so that the finance team can plan and block calendars appropriately.
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. (The CoS 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 is responsible for maintaining the schedule, optimizing discussion schedules for energy levels, and having topics prepared.
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, one of the CEO shadows, or the Staff 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.
There are some topics discussed at every e-group offsite. These include:
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.
Before emphasizing follow ups, many conclusions never landed and/or resulted into action.
Follow ups can take the form of a/n:
All-directs are a key leadership team that plays a key role in identifying and realizing business opportunities. All-directs input is valuable in the lead up to meetings, and all-Direct collaboration is key for casacading 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 all-direct team should arrive at our all-directs Zoom call already having an understanding of some of key items that were discussed.
On the first business day immediately following the Offsite, there is a 90-minute Zoom call before 12pm Pacific time for the All-Directs Group. This time will not work for everyone.
The goal of this call is to communicate:
The Agenda for the call is:
This Zoom call is a separate invite. The Staff EBA to the CEO is responsible for setting up the invite, the doc for the call, and inviting all direct reports to executives. The CoS will moderate the call.
The CoS will have materials prepared for the call, no later than 12 business hours before or before end of day if the offsite concludes on a Friday. Material will include an event summary and a highlight video message. The materials used for the call can be repurposed by attendees to share key information with their teams. Think of the materials as a "Meeting in a Box."
The offsite includes a 1 hour discussion, 15 minutes of which is on action items, on a book read explicitly for the offsite. The CoS solicits book nominations from throughout the company into an issue. Then the E-Group decides on the book. The book will be finalized no less than 1 month prior to the offsite.
When possible, the book discussion will be live streamed to the GitLab Unfiltered account in order to provide transparency and insight into action items that come from the discussion. Live streaming will further engage team members while promoting trust in leadership's commitment to the GitLab values.
When not possible for logistical reasons, we aim to have an AMA the first business day after the offsite with the executives on the book. This also allows team members to engage in the book.
Employees may expense E-Group offsite book selections.
Books that the E-Group finds noteworthy should be added to the Leadership Books.