From “Founding Sales: Sales for founders (and others) in first-time sales roles” by Pete Kazanjy.  

This is a reference architecture for an early stage startup internal meeting cadence, including what meetings to have, with whom, at what cadence, covering which topics, and specifically not covering which topics. It goes from one-on-ones, to team meetings, to all-hands, and covers meetings for Engineering, Sales, and Customer Success. It’s patterned off of the meeting cadence we had at TalentBin, and a number of the companies I advise / have invested in use it as well.

Obviously there are variations to this, and this framework can be extended beyond to larger / later stage organizations. Please use this as a jumping off point and hack on this to make it your own. But the hope is that by providing a thought framework for founders and other early stage staff to use in their own context, missteps can be avoided, and you can have more success, faster, in your own organizations.

Pretty please report bugs to petekazanjy@stanfordalumni.org! Gracias!

Introduction

Meeting Metadata

Engineering

Sales

Customer Success

Whole-Org Meetings

Cross-Executive Meetings

“Which use cases are handled by which meeting?”

Early Stage Startup Meeting Cadence Reference Architecture

The goal of this document is to map out a basic meeting cadence for early stage startups. You might say “Wait a minute?! Meetings are those things that waste time and are for big companies!” Au contraire, buddy. Poorly run meetings waste time.

Meetings are for richly communicating information, and receiving it. For ensuring that the things the organization is supposed to be doing is being done, that people within the organization understand what the larger goal is, their place in it, what they should be doing to proceed towards that, and to raise issues if they see divergence there.

If you don’t do them, the core needs will still be there, and they’ll just get served other ways. If you don’t have private venues for surfacing issues, they will happen in backchannel conversations in ways that erode morale. If you don’t have a means to communicate, and reiterate, top priorities, then people will work on whatever is in front of them, or things they like, versus things that organization needs. If people don’t know when information will be shared with them, they will assume you’re hiding it from them. Fix all of this with a thoughtful meeting cadence, wherein certain meetings have a certain purpose (and stated anti-purposes), and proactively handle these information distribution and feedback solicitation needs.

Don’t skimp on the meetings. And as a founder, guess what: you’re a manager. So get used to it. You’re going to have a lot of these. You are an information router, and communicating and extracting that via rich, face-to-face communication is often the best way to do this.

And no, a company-wide Slack channel does not count.


Content and Format needs to be explicitly set. If there is lack of clarity as to what this meeting is for and what content is to be covered, you will get creep, which will dilute the purpose of the meeting, and keep you from achieving the goal of the meeting. The owner needs to be the goal keeper of keeping the meeting on track, and not diverging from its purpose.

Owner: There needs to be an explicit owner of the meeting who is responsible for adhering to the agenda, keeping the meeting on track, and on timeline, and if things are diverging from agenda, cutting it off and providing an outlet for that other content (Can it be handled outside the meeting? In email? At the next meeting? At another, more appropriate venue?)