David Friday Fun: Meet Fred Wilson and Mike Volpi So in the same way we introduce you to new team members, let's take today to get them. Stream David K - Meet You (Electrobrain Remix) by Phil D Electrobrain from desktop or your mobile device. Stream David K - Meet You (Electrobrain Remix) by Phil D Electrobrain from desktop or your mobile device.
With everything rotating around that axis, here are some of the concrete steps he and his team took to breathe life back into All Hands meetings: Find the right cadence. For smaller companies, holding an All Hands once a week or every two weeks works awesomely well, and is easy to execute.
But as SoundCloud grew, it made sense to have fewer, more comprehensive meetings. You want to share those dates as soon as possible so people can block off the time and make the meetings a priority. Take a strongly thematic approach.Feder - Goodbye feat. Lyse (Official Video)
Developing themes essentially enforced the internal comms team to be thoughtful about what would engage people and be most important for everyone to know. It raised the bar for the content that would be shared. Assign owners, and get serious about accountability.
At SoundCloud, there are two key owners for every All Hands meeting: They also serve as MC during the event, opening and closing the proceedings and introducing new employees. This distributes the labor nicely and helps get more people involved and invested as rotating hosts. Nail down a regular production cycle.
Two days before, they convene the speakers for a test run to make sure they've done their homework and that their content will be valuable. Maybe one person is running over time on his part of the presentation, while another presenter could use design help on a few slides. All of these changes are important because they add up to every employee feeling great about working at SoundCloud and doing their best work.
Prioritize the inclusion of remote employees. SoundCloud has three offices in addition to their Berlin headquarters, where the live All Hands is typically held. We want to make it feel just like everyone is in the same room.
No nit-pick is too small. One camera angle from the back of the room simply won't cut it. Low production value breeds disengagement, and a disengaged employee is more likely to do low quality of work or leave the company. Let attendees ask questions through the channel they're most comfortable with. This allows people in other offices to participate in a seamless way, and caters to people with differing communication styles.
Some might be shyer than others or prefer to express themselves differently. You don't want to exclude anyone unintentionally. Past themes and topics have included actions and reflections coming out of leadership offsites, future product launches, company strategy, quarterly objectives, and much more. There's a special sensitivity for areas that might be controversial or confusing or tense. Instead of skimming the surface of these issues, or talking around them, SoundCloud makes them central to the discussion during All Hands gatherings.
The survey asks just three questions to keep it low-lift: Was the recent All Hands valuable? Multiple choice Yes or No What did you like best during the event? What can we improve about the meeting? Qualitative feedback is just as telling. Sometimes, the meeting will be outside normal work hours for employees in other time zones.
People have started proactively organizing breakfast meetings to watch the Livestream instead of watching the footage after the fact. As teams get to be larger and larger, having a way to bring everyone together to get on the same page is increasingly important. To loop in the rest of the company, team leaders circulate a summary of their plans to everyone every two weeks. Dedicating Time for Informal Discussion with Open Houses All Hands meetings are vital for bringing transparency to big company-wide initiatives and goals.
Sometimes a question from an All Hands will prompt an entirely different line of conversation. He saw how much organic interest there was in teams working on an exciting new projects that weren't quite ready for prime time.
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But as a team grows, these lines of communication can break down. The Open House format is flexible. A few examples of the types of material that work well in an Open House include: The insights and data teams presenting findings about an intriguing user segment. Early prototypes or wireframes the design team is enthusiastic about. Recent user research that is telling or surprising collected by the data team.
Progress toward a big launch as told in narrative form by the product team. Open Houses are also used to reinforce the most important themes coming out of All Hands meetings. For example, the first All Hands of every quarter is dedicated to high-level goals, plans and objectives for the next 3 months. This is often followed by an Open House for anyone who wants to dig deeper into these topics.
What are the objectives? We want to make it easy for everyone to make a quick decision about whether to attend. Building connections across multiple offices. The questions are always different from the ones I get in Berlin.
It often brings up ideas and questions I haven't considered but that I should. In fact, the company offers a Global Exchange Program where employees can apply to work in another office for a quarter if it will add value to their development or output. It's turned into an incredibly popular program that employees cite as a key perk. Giving more people a seat at the table. For example, SoundCloud recently developed its internal action plan around diversity and inclusion.
The people hosting the Open House are often the resident experts on that topic or area, but they're encouraged to draw in anyone who simply wants to learn more who may then be tapped to present or ask specific questions so that everyone can benefit from the information shared. Open House meetings have quickly grown in popularity at SoundCloud, proving their value for keeping knowledge flowing, current and nimble.
Last year we had about three to five a quarter. If we see a topic bubble up that seems to justify an Open House, more often than not there will be a packed room. They're not only good for sharing information — they help the company keep its finger on the pulse of what inspires people, what they care about.
At the end of last year, his team decided it was time to develop a more robust intranet to solve this issue. The first step was to christen the new system with a SoundCloud-worthy moniker. Here are the tactics they proved out: Give everyone enough time to adjust.
From 50, Listeners to Million: David Noël on Eight Years of Community at SoundCloud.
A lot of companies make the mistake of hustling employees to a new platform and then abandoning the solution when it appears to lack traction. The two founders both had backgrounds in music — Eric as an electronic musician and Alex as a sound designer. This might be valuable to you. Electronic musicians are special because they are a type of creator who understands technology.
At the time, electronic musicians had to constantly move files around to give each other feedback or send songs to clients but there was no tool to do that well. You had MySpace, which was not designed for musicians. It was a social network first and then it accidentally became popular amongst musicians.
And you had file-sharing tools like YouSendIt which had poor user experiences. Eric and Alex wanted to find something in between those two worlds that made it easier for musicians to move music across the world. How did SoundCloud spread beyond that initial group of musicians?
A lot of that had to do with the way SoundCloud was designed. It turned music from something very passive on the Web to something interactive because of the waveform. The big breakthrough was making music visual? Making it visual and giving it a layer of interaction. Then they also made music portable. At that time every artist was trying to get you to go to their MySpace page.
Musicians could upload their track once, and bring it to where people already were — to WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, Myspace. So the virility was built into the product early on. And finally it was about music, which is an emotional connector. It was about music, which is an emotional connector. Right away, they had 50, users. What was your very first task at SoundCloud? That was where I started.
I went through thousands of emails, thousands of tweets from the most frustrated users, the most pissed off users… everything. All kinds of emotions from all across the world. It was my first immersion into understanding the people using SoundCloud. What type of users are there?
What do they care about? What are their hopes?
What are their desires? What are their pain points? Do you remember any of those early emails? People telling me the product was broken, sending in questions about how to use it, or sharing feature requests and feedback. I basically became the interface between the world and the company. I was the sponge who absorbed all the water from the world, then squeezed it into the company at the right points. I had insight into everything that our company was doing —the product roadmap, our resourcing — and I knew what the user issues were.
I would recognize patterns and communicate those to the product teams. How did you go about sharing insights from users with the SoundCloud product team? They want to solve problems. Is the SoundCloud community team still close to the product team?
Now we have community specialists who are extended members of product teams. They attend stand-ups and funnel key feedback issues. The primary goal of that community point person is not to come in and have a super well-defined idea, but to share the community perspective.
The loud minority will always be loudest. That synthesis is important. Eventually I realized those were an expression of emotion in the moment. How often are people prepared because of a burst of emotion to delete years of building up relationships on SoundCloud and enjoying the product? A lot of my work early was about listening, understanding, seeing what people care about.
Then another element of it was around creating some sort of engagement. Where do we put them? This seems like a simple question, but why did you write stories about SoundCloud users? At the end of the day, creativity comes from a person.