Ask HN: How to make regular team calls more productive and useful?


We have a distributed (2, sometimes 3 countries) team of mostly engineers. We have bi-weekly conference calls to discuss the progress and set goals. The team is 8 people. The managers are the founders and they are often away from the core engineering team, so the engineers are trusted to be efficient working remotely (no issues on this part).

Although everyone is really motivated, I feel our calls could be more productive. So far we follow just one pattern:

1) Person tells what they did.

2) Person tells what they plan to do for the week.

3) Everyone asks questions or the person asks.

Meetings are timed and run no longer than 1 hour. That’s it.

What can we do to improve the process, without going deep down the rabbit hole of Agile etc.

1) Assign a person to take notes. Same person every time? Manager?

What to do with the notes after? Send to the team? But everyone kind of remembers what they are supposed to be doing – they just presented it.

2) Send agenda the night before, so everyone is onboard?

Concern is distraction for everyone.

4) Do some kind of STOP START CONTINUE?

Here the concern is that it will be artificial and if we do it on a weekly basis it will make people come up with answers.

5) If someone wants to implement a new procedure (something related to testing for example) for their part and everyone kind of agrees it’s a good idea – how to make sure it does get integrated?

6) Do video-calls? At least for the majority? Everyone is calling from the offices, so privacy is not a concern.

What we want to achieve is actually turn the meetings from something informational into something that actually pushes the company and project in the right direction, adds to the internal momentum.

Maybe someone can share their experience with doing productive and useful regular remote team calls? Any particularly good resources with information about such thing? Any advice is greatly appreciated.

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