Three meetings that didn’t suck

“If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings.’  (Dave Barry)”

One of the things I’ve noticed as I’ve adjusted to life here at Infinio is that we have different types of meetings than I am used to from being at a big company.

First off, we have a lot more ad-hoc meetings.  Perhaps due to the open floor plan, it’s far more common to mosey over to someone’s desk and start chatting rather than to schedule time with someone.  “Can I grab you for a sec?” “Are you interruptible?” are very common here.

Twice a week I participate in a marketing “stand up” meeting.  I remember reading about these in grad school as part of Agile/Scrum methodology, although not really related to marketing.  In ours, we go “around the horn” and everyone does a quick update of their major goals for the day.  Sometimes we have a short conversation about something or show a piece of work off, but usually it’s just to set up for the day.  Oh, and it’s called a “stand up” meeting because we literally “stand up.”  That keeps it nice and short.

Last Friday I went to my first engineering iteration meeting.  I am such a dork – I was really (*really*) excited to attend.  Engineering at my last job was not a resource directly accessible to me so it was exciting to see what happens in one of their meetings.  Basically, the engineers took turns talking about their work on particular features or problems, with at least 6-8 of them talking in a 2 hour meeting.  People asked questions and expressed worries, and there was a lot of sharing of images and screen shots.  We used Google Hangouts to connect to remote engineers so the graphics were definitely important.

I learned a few specific things at the meeting.

1.  Despite being warned that I might be bored I was pretty well-equipped to follow most of what was going on in the meeting.  With the exception of some coding buzzwords, the bulk of the things I didn’t understand had more to do with my gaps in knowledge around VMware than anything else.

2. The relationship between engineering and QA is fascinating – like siblings maybe?  Everyone wants to release a great working product but it’s QA’s job to poke holes in the code before it ships.  (Nudge, nudge, poke, poke, I’m not touching you….)  The groups were friendly and respectful towards each other.

3. Regarding language – I was impressed by how many times “the customer” was referenced (17) and how actively they seemed to be a silent participant in the meeting.  Specific customers were also mentioned and resolving their issues was clearly top priority. There was also some reference to “technical risk” and “technical debt” which were new concepts to me.

4. Finally, I understood – immediately, in a flash – what automation testing is and why it’s so important.  Suddenly, too, I understood what “DevOps” meant.   And I’m not sure either of those things would have made any sense if I hadn’t attended that meeting.

The other new kind of meeting I have begun attending since joining Infinio is the weekly all-company meeting.  After our company lunch on Wednesdays, our execs all get up and talk about what’s going on in their domains – Engineering, Sales, Marketing, and our CEO.  They share good news and bad news and major strategic decision-making.

It was really fascinating to see the engineerings ask about marketing programs and plans – it reminded me that you can’t just wake up one morning and decide to do marketing well any more than you can wake up and decide to do engineering well.  I forget that sometimes – even my own biases work against the field I’ve chosen to work in.  The other cool thing about the all-company meeting is what happens afterwards – people walk over to each other and follow up on things they heard.  It’s another good way to get engineering, sales, and marketing talking.  A test engineer came over to me to comment on some market research I was doing because he had worked at one of the companies whose technology I was researching.  Score!

I like meetings that don’t suck.  I hope to attend more of them.

2 thoughts on “Three meetings that didn’t suck

  1. Pingback: The most important meeting I had last week | storageDiva's Tablespace

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