#214 – S.P.A. 15 Remote Retreat

Friday Ship # | July 17th, 2020

Parabol team "Brady Bunch" Zoom capture

This week we returned to our company's regular rhythm after holding last week’s 15th all-company retreat, S.P.A. 15.

Despite being an all-remote company, S.P.A. 15 was our very first completely remote retreat. Past S.P.A. retreats had taken us to places like New York—where Parabol was founded, Oaxaca, and Los Angeles. This time S.P.A. was held from our home offices due to the health crisis. Folks attended from as far east as Vietnam and as far west as Hawaii.

To make the retreat work, we designed the week with a few principles in mind:

  • Make as a much async as we can: for example, rather than set strategy over 2 days of in-person workshops, this time we evolved our company strategy, objectives and key results over a two-week period before we met synchronously
  • Limit video conferencing to 4 hours per day: for the sake of time zone differences and “Zoom fatigue” we kept our time together short and intentional
  • Keep activities varied: aside from “work-work” we played games, brought in a body kinetics specialist, and spent time connecting with one another

We also used our own Parabol app to help us organize the retreat. For 2 days of our retreat we held a “Parabol un-conference” where anybody could propose a topic for a small group to go discuss and work on. We used our app to solicit topic suggestions, group them, and vote on how to spend our time:

Parabol App S.P.A. 15 Unconference use case capture

Just today we held a retro looking back and what went well and what could have been done better, as the COVID trends make it look more and more likely that we’ll have to do another all-remote retreat. While universally we agreed that we’d prefer to meet in person holding this retreat unlocked a number of innovations we’ll carry forward in the way we operate, including:

  • Always updating our strategy and goals asynchronously
  • Holding mid-quarter design sprint weeks

If you’re planning your own remote team retreat and would like to discuss the details of how we held ours, hit us up on Twitter @parabolco and we’d be honored to chat!

Metrics

Parabol Friday Ship metrics 17-Jul-2020

Only modest top-of-funnel gains were made this week. Mid-funnel fared slightly better with 11% more meetings being run this week compared to last week. This quarter, we’re focused on mid-funnel retention and re-engagement as the item requiring the most attention.

This week we…

...published new landing pages for each of our retrospective templates. These pages include some beautiful illustrations. We’re very pleased with how each of these pages turned out.

started drafting a blog post on how teams can enhance their in-person meetings using Parabol.

published a blog post on how teams can run great retrospectives across time zones. Time differences make it hard to run a retrospective in real-time. This post focused on how to run an async retro.

updated our Team page to include the newest folks to join. Look at all these new faces!

New Parabol Team Members for July 2020

...shipped v5.12.0 and v5.12.1 into production. This release included several behind-the-scenes changes. However, one cool new user-facing feature is the ability to get an export of tasks and comments when a retrospective meeting completes.

we took next steps in designing the Sprint Poker meeting. We analyzed the user research and have drafted the scope for a first version of this meeting type. We’re also iterating on our early designs to incorporate more of a multiplayer feel.

Parabol sprint poker multiplayer ux design idea

...had a new candidate start their batting practice with us. You can read more about our hiring process here.

...proposed partner tier pricing so we can better serve our consulting clients and better engage their portfolios.

...began scoping out the Enterprise Analytics for organization leaders.

Next week we’ll…

wrap up product team’s sprint #60. By the end of this sprint, we should be unblocked from implementing our sprint poker meeting.


Have feedback? See something that you like or something you think could be better? Leave a public response here, or write to us.

 

Jordan Husney

Jordan Husney spent 20+ years helping technology serve people. His passion for collaboration, agile development, and remote teams led him to start Parabol, a free online retrospective tool.