The Barrel Partners and I meet with our Team Leads to debrief and align every quarter. We've been evolving the format for years now — this quarter was no exception.
When I led the design team as Creative Director, I met with them quarterly to debrief on wins, lessons learned, and what we hoped to accomplish in the future. I appreciated the time hearing from them, but we were operating in a silo. There was no system in place for sharing the takeaways. On top of that, the design team was the only one following this ritual.
Earlier this year, our CEO Peter and I discussed a system where every manager (Team Lead) would facilitate a debrief with their respective teams following the same format. They would synthesize the takeaways and bring them back to the partners and other Team Leads. We decided to use this quarter's session to experiment with this system.
Our goal with the new system was to:
To prepare for their respective teams debrief sessions, each Team Lead sent an email to their team asking them to prepare at least three thoughts on the following questions:
In each session, the Team Lead led the debrief, going to each team member one by one, asking them to share their thoughts. Notes were captured in real-time using a template in Notion. Here is a screenshot:
To prepare for the session with the Partners and other Team Leads, each Team Lead synthesized their debrief notes into a consistent format, pulling themes from the three questions. Then, identifying focus areas for the coming quarter, taking what they learned and is top of mind into account.
Below is how the template is structured:
In the meeting last Thursday, each Team Lead had 30-45 minutes to lead a discussion, using the above format as a guide. Everyone had printed copies of the notes to avoid device distractions. We tried to make this more of a discussion than a presentation, with everyone asking questions and commenting throughout the session.
Overall, the session was a success, receiving positive feedback from everyone. We were happy to hear similar themes across the teams and to have good discussions around important topics.
In terms of the next steps:
I am excited to continue this debrief system next quarter. Over time, I hope it will be a powerful tool for team alignment and prioritization.
That said, I already have some ideas about how we can tweak the system for improvements: