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E-group offsite

Intro

The E-group offsite happens every quarter for four days.

Goal

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:

  1. Top of mind
  2. Actionable
  3. Impactful to the trajectory of the company
  4. Cross-functional

Notes

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.

Follow up

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:

  1. Merge request to the handbook
  2. Issue created
  3. Meeting scheduled
  4. Notes shared with the rest of the company in Slack
  5. Etc.

Time management

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.

Attendees

  1. Executives
  2. Chief of Staff; when not possible, the Internal Strategy Consultant will
  3. CEO Shadows
  4. Executive Assistant to the CEO (optional)

Roles

Executives are committed to working through difficult discussions and problems during the event.

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 other team member is reponsible for facilitating the event. They will work with the 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 Executive Assistant to the CEO is responsible for organizing and coordinating the Offsite, including travel, lodging, agendas, and meals.

Document During Meeting

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 Chief of Staff, 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.

Logistics

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, he 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 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.

Schedule

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:

  1. Monday: travel day with optional dinner around 7pm local time
  2. Tuesday: Full day meeting starting with breakfast at 8am
  3. Wednesday: Full day meeting starting with breakfast at 8am. When the event does not coincide with Contribute, EA to the CEO will coordinate an off-site activity for the afternoon.
  4. Thursday: Half day meeting starting with breakfast at 8am. At 10:30 AM, the e-group hosts an all-directs zoom call. Usual end time is 12:30 pm with departure flights scheduled in the late afternoon.

E-Group is welcome to fly in early or stay later pending their travel preferences.

Timeline

  1. Plan
  2. Gathering subjects - if a subject requires data to support the discussion, make a request of the data team for assistance no less than 2 weeks before the offsite
  3. During Meeting
    1. Review previous quarter meeting MRs and Results
    2. Discussion: 50% of allotted time
    3. Merge Requests / Implementation: 50% of allotted time
    4. Data Team member on-call to respond to data requests during meeting

Organization

The Executive Assistant to the CEO is responsible for organizing this.

All-directs Zoom Call

The Offsite is concluded with a two-hour Zoom call beginning at 10:30 in the local time of the offsite for all direct reports of the Executives. This time will not work for everyone, but we will standardize on local time of the offsite. The goal of this call is to communicate:

  1. Strategic or visionary updates that are crucial to priorities
  2. Key decisions made
  3. Key messaging that leaders are enlisted to help distribute
  4. Action items which may need cross-functional collaboration

This Zoom call is a separate invite. The EBA to the CEO is reponsible for setting up the invite, the doc for the call, and inviting all direct reports to executives. The CoS will moderate the call, if moderation is needed.

Book Choice

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 a Google Form. Then GitLab team members get to vote on the book. The book will be finalized no less than 1 month prior to the offsite.