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Harper Reed on giving everyone a voice in team meetings

Lead Time Chats: Season 1, Episode 11 Takeaways

May 5, 2021

In Episode 11 of Lead Time Chats, Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering at Range, talks to Harper Reed about how meetings can give everyone a voice in team meetings.

Harper is currently CEO of Galactic. Formerly he was CEO of Modest, which was acquired by Paypal, and CTO of Obama for America.

Host's Note: Harper and I originally met at FooCamp in 2013, when he attended a FooCamp unconference session I led called How to Run Efficient Meetings. When we re-connected a few months ago, I discovered that after that one hour session 8 years ago, he revamped meetings at his company, and at every company he’s worked at since. We re-united to record a Lead Time Chat nerding out on meetings and to encourage more teams to implement these high-density, high-efficiency team meetings.

Jean and Harper discuss:

  • How a 3 hour rambling meeting turned into a 30 minute high density meeting, with a bit of structure and facilitation
  • The impact that highly efficient meetings have had on Harper's teams over the last 8 years
  • How to create a meeting culture that's not dominated by the loudest people in the room
  • Tips on how to get started with this type of structured check-in meeting

Takeaways from Harper

Meetings can be an intentional place to include, rather than exclude, people

“Everything you do internal to your company, whether it is leadership movements, like how you act as a leader or whether it is the tooling that you choose is a deliberate choice to either include or exclude people.

I think that the thing that we have thought a lot about is when you think about accessibility and you think about statements, like, you're not a culture fit. Culture has never used to include, it's always used to exclude, it seems. All of these things are deliberate decisions where we think we're talking about inclusion, but we're actually talking about exclusion, and I think that that extends to tooling, how you run your meetings.”

The loudest person in the meeting doesn't always have the best ideas

“You know, some persons will talk really loud and be excited and maybe aggressive, not like aggressive in a bad way, just very, out they're pushy. And other people will want to be quiet and not. But their ideas are oftentimes equal, yet in typical meetings, what we found is that their ideas were not treated equally.”

The only thing we can't get back is time. So let's have efficient meetings

“I don't know if this is just me aging and realizing that we’re going to die someday or because all our parents are dying or whatever it might be where I'm suddenly like we're all going to die. But I think that the only thing that we can't get back is time. And I oftentimes think when we're in these meetings and we're like, Oh, I hate this meeting, it's so long, it's so boring.

It's like the opportunity to make these things so efficient and also productive. And also with a high amount of information that comes out that is then spun out to the rest of the company.”

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About Lead Time Chats

Listen in on unscripted conversations between Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering at Range and engineering leadership coach, and engineering leaders and other influential folks in tech.

Lead Time Chats is brought to you by Range. Range helps hybrid teams check-in asynchronously about what matters most. Know what's happening through status updates that pull from tools like Github and JIRA without scheduling yet another meeting.

Checking-in with Range creates more focus time for heads-down work, all while feeling a deeper sense of connection and belonging with your team. To learn more about Range, you can check it out here.

S1 E11: Harper Reed on giving everyone a voice in team meetings
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