Strikes, Spares, and Small Group Discussions

Aubrey Lear, Senior Employee Engagement Manager

Article Categories: #News & Culture, #Employee Engagement

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No matter the season or location, every quarter we connect as a company, share progress and goals, and do something fun.

Viget hosts four quarterly “all-hands” meetings a year, which we refer to as “TTT”. Our TTTs are a valuable part of our culture and business strategy. Taking time to pause, connect, reflect, and look forward is an integral part of how we’ve built our teams and planned for the future for twenty-three plus years. Three of our quarterly TTTs — winter, spring, and fall — are true all-hands events and feel conference-like. By contrast, summer TTTs are held locally, which enables more intimate roundtable discussions within smaller community groups. This makes the meeting feel more like a town hall than a conference-like gathering.

Throughout the summer, our five different “local” communities – Boulder, Chattanooga, Durham, Falls Church, and Remote come together over the course of five different days for their own unique roundtable discussion. Folks who are close to an office during TTT weeks (regardless of how often they come in) are invited to pull up an actual chair and join the in-person discussion.

Okay, rectangle-table* discussion.

But community is critical regardless of geographical boundaries. If our hybrid approach to work has taught us anything, it’s that effective teamwork requires effective communication regardless of where you are. So, our Remote contingent (and folks traveling over the summer) are invited to pull up their own chairs to an engaging virtual discussion. The important part of summer TTTs isn’t necessarily which event you are a part of, it’s that you have a seat at the table.

Each community follows the same structure: a meeting focused on the now, a breakout session focused on the future, and a fun activity to foster camaraderie and connection.

Our CEO, Brian, travels (or logs on) to each event and leads each community through a discussion focused on aligning us as a community. We discuss current happenings, connect on goals, and get creative about what the future might look like.

While each summer TTT follows the same structure, each event is unique because of what those local communities bring to the table. We are in the middle of our summer TTT season. We’ve hosted three of our five events so far. Our Chattanooga TTT general discussion touched on development languages and professional development. At our Falls Church TTT, the discussion covered project changes and documentation. And at our Durham TTT, the conversation included talk of cultural touchpoints and transparency.

In addition to our goals-based discussion, this summer we’re stepping into the future by discussing how AI might shape the future of our work and industry. Using Sylvain Duranton’s How humans and AI can work together to create better businesses TED talk as a jumping off point, we’re breaking into small groups to discuss AI as it relates to the tools we use, the tools we make, and the changes to come in tools and roles we leverage.

Like the general discussion, so far each community has put their own spin on the AI breakout. We’ve discussed using AI as a way to chip away at the blank page problem, in the context of ownership and ethics, and to consider improving current processes by leaning on tools like meeting note generation (something we should try at our next TTT – see the tips section at the end).

This summer marks one hundred and twenty three TTT seasons, and to cap off TTT our teams are bowling (the “something fun” part). Bowling is right up our alley, historically – Andy and Cindy have the bowling shirts to prove it. In a season of change and uncertainty, connecting over a shared experience like a classic game is just another way Summer TTT helps us thoughtfully get in the same lane with our teammates (in that vein, we may or may not be sending our Remote teammates a miniature tabletop bowling game 👀).

Planning your next conference or town hall style event? Here are a few standby tips to make sure your event isn’t a gutter ball:

  • Take and share notes. Tap a dedicated notetaker (who is not in charge of the event, catering, or other logistics), make those notes readily available, and utilize your notes to continue the conversation.

  • Over communicate! One example this summer was scheduling Slack reminders for teams not to forget to bring socks for their rental shoes at the bowling alley.

  • Test your tech. We played a video during our event which meant making sure the audio was at the right volume and that captions were on and readable.

  • In lieu of an “icebreaker,” consider kicking off your event over a shared meal.

  • Embrace awkward silence. Town hall style events only work when everyone is a part of the conversation. Be sure leaders are encouraging participants to speak up.

  • Remove barriers to participation. Stock extra pens, notebooks, and coffee in or nearby the meeting location.

  • Loop new team members in. This summer, our interns joined our HQ meeting. This was their first TTT, so in advance we made sure to discuss what to expect with our interns and share tips and resources that encouraged them to be active participants in the discussion and activity.

  • Always have a fun, and on theme, snack. This summer a popcorn bowling ball was waiting for each attendee at their seats.

No matter the season or location, we are committed to taking time to connect as a company, share progress and goals, discuss big topics, and creatively work together to build a better digital world.

Aubrey Lear

Aubrey is Viget’s Senior Employee Engagement Manager based in our Falls Church, VA, HQ. She is an organized advocate for color coordinated calendars and closets, but most importantly she is a believer in team spirit and creative thinking.

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