Week 36: Offsites, little but good reading, and deep work

Two offsites and a lot of things going on

Hey everyone!

This was an exceptional week. There were two offsites (one for APX and one for Berliner Stadtmission), two talks I gave, and a lot of deep work.

Offsite 1: APX

Finally, we were able to go to Coconat. We met there on Tuesday morning and spent the day and Wednesday until late afternoon before going back to Berlin. We usually try to have a good balance between agenda and lateral meeting time on our offsites. As a team, we need both: the structure of an agenda with goals and desired outcomes and the time to think free and work on topics without coming to immediately actionable results.

This time some of us already went to Coconat on Monday and prepared one topic for our offsite: dealflow. This allowed us to go through a well-prepared and moderated process of coming up with the best measures we can all take to meet the best founders in the future. At least, this is our hope.

The other big topic we worked on was (and is) “remote first.” We took the time to identify and make explicit a lot of the learnings and observations from being forced to be remote-first for more than 18 months now. We discussed how we will have our company “home” in the future and how we can work together best. Some things I want to share:

  • Meetings: a differentiated view on video meetings, hybrid meetings, and in-person meetings. For now, we think that larger meetings are video first. Everyone’s camera is on, and everyone has the right equipment (audio, video, and connectivity) to participate without technical glitches. Hybrid meetings are difficult: our current agreement is that if it is a group video call, it is ok to participate from a meeting room only if you do not have an active part in the meeting. This goes for update meetings. I.e., we have a “deal meeting” every Tuesday that is one hour long and interesting for most of us to understand all the deals we are doing. Although it there is only active participation by some of us.

  • Asynchronous meetings: For many topics, we are working on, we have “live” meetings where an asynchronous format might be the better option. We will try this. Happy to share more when we have experiences to share.

  • Many things we would have solved with a “walk by the desk” or a random encounter in the kitchen in the past have now turned into meetings. If we have a topic that only takes 10 minutes to discuss and do not run into each other randomly, we have developed the reflex to set up a meeting. And since we do not set up meetings for 10 minutes (this feels weird to most of us), we set up a 20-minute long meeting. This fragments the days even more. We want to be more aware not to set up too many meetings like this but rather use Slack or a quick phone or slack call to discuss these topics. Also happy to share experiences once this affects our agendas.

  • In general, we want to work on being well in synch, coordinated, including the right people in the right topics, and come up with a way to work with each other that avoids being busy and in meetings back to back as much as possible.

  • One other thing we want to do I am much looking forward to is finding a third place to work that is neither home-office nor our office. We had some very nice ideas about what it might be. Happy to share more later.

Offsite 2: Berliner Stadtmission

As some of you know, I am a member of the board of trustees of Berliner Stadtmission. We meet for a “Klausurtagung” once per year. Last year we could not meet in person due to the lockdown, but we had our meeting Friday and Saturday this year. I always enjoy meeting my fellow board members and the operational board. This year we had - among other topics - some very enlightening and energizing discussions on vision, mission, and purpose. Which - in the context of a Christian Stadtmission - is a super interesting discussion to have. When we discuss vision, purpose, and mission in the context of startups, it is often based on the ideas and values of the founders. In the context of Berliner Stadtmission, there is quite some documentation on values and best practices (i.e., the Bible) that is a fascinating source of reference and discussion.

As I was away quite a bit and had some deep work things to work on, there was not too much time to read or watch. Besides what I shared above, I also worked on a concept with Henric, a keynote with Mahdi (where we messed up the recording in the most fun way that only happens once), and a keynote to welcome new apprentices at Axel Springer with the topic:” I wish someone had told me this before.”

Things I read and watched this week:

I read some blog posts and only watched youtube to learn how to set up a new gate opener for our home as I lost the old one.:

Thank you for reading; feedback is welcome, and have a great week!