Sync Meetings & Communication Can Be Good Too. The How, When, & Why w/ Jakob Knutzen @ Butter

The future of work is async but that doesn't mean teams shouldn't meet synchronously anymore. It does mean how, when, and why they meet will be better designed and more impactful.



10/17/202242 min read

Here's the recap. In today's episode of Leading from Afar I chat with my good buddy Jakob Knutzen, CEO of Butter about sync meetings. Nope, it's not a type. I didn't mean async. Since Jakob is building the most engaging sync video tool, I thought we'd discuss why we all hate sync meetings and how to redesign them to be more impactful. We started off discussing the why's of calling a sync meeting. Then going deeper into when of those why's, to have a sync meeting. Finally, we discuss the how of doing a sync meeting the right way. Spoiler: Proper sync meetings have quite a bit of async embedded.

So if you're a leader either thinking about going async by default and want to understand when/why/how to do sync meetings, or you're still doing sync meetings by default this episode will help you move towards async.

Jakob on Linkedin

Jakob on Twitter


Sync meetings to feel & feed off the energy of the team

There's an idea that we feed off others' energy and I definitely believe in this. So a great opp for getting people together synchronously is for this idea. Whether sharing good news or bad. Did the team close a huge deal or secure big funding round to push the company forward to success? This is a perfect time for people to celebrate and share virtual high fives. Seeing the energy and excitement of colleagues can supercharge your team. It can even work in the opposite case. Lost a big contract or having big churn issues, let the team share their feelings. Vent frustrations and virtually lean on each other for support. Support across the team may not take away any bitterness but helps the team process the news and feel they are in it together as they move forward.

Good sync meetings have lots of async embedded

Ever sit in a meeting where the first 10+ minutes is the speaker shares data and background for everyone to have a base for the rest of the conversation? Ever sit in a meeting where the speaker fills the full meeting slot and doesn't leave time for questions? Or the Q&A time is hijacked by one or two of the loudmouths on the team? Ever leave a meeting not understanding the takeaways and what comes next? This is the superpower of async for sync meetings. This is a practice I've used for years to actually avoid sync meetings. In today's case, we'll focus on giving sync meetings superpowers.

Create and send a detailed agenda a few days prior to the meeting

This is hack #1. 2+ days before the meeting send everyone invited a document with a detailed agenda. Be sure to answer why the meeting is being called, why each invitee is invited to the meeting, and what are the expectations & goals of the meeting for invitees. Specifically, @ mention those responsible for action items so they're prepared on what needs to be provided during (or before the meeting). For example, the meeting is to push forward a specific feature idea. The product manager is expected to create the storyboard on the feature and assign a designer to create the designs. The engineering manager is expected to assign a developer once the designs are approved.

Next, ask everyone to ask questions and share feedback before the meeting. Doing the 2 previous steps will ensure all participants hit the ground running when the meeting starts to ensure the meeting is valuable and runs as smoothly as possible. Allowing participants to ask questions can help flesh out problems or answer questions to ensure the success of the meeting.

Record the meeting

The revolution around work that has sprung forth due to CoVid is all about the quality of life and not remote work. Meaning if your team is spread out geographically, don't have people stay late, come in early, or burn the midnight oil to participate in the meeting. If they were expected to provide something, sending that detailed agenda days beforehand can help them provide what's needed before the meeting and spare burning the midnight oil. Of course, it's also a much better company culture-wise. Next, you no longer need to invite those people who were really invited as listeners and inactive participants. Since no action items were assigned to them, the session was really just informational for them. So sending them a recording of the meeting allows them to listen if they want and 2x it whenever is a good time for them.


Be sure to follow up on the meeting with a link to the recording and meeting notes. The meeting notes should include a high-level recap, next steps, and action items, who owns them, and when they need to be delivered.

Scott - [02:48 - 02:52]

Hey Jakob, thank you for joining today. How's everything going?

Jakob - [02:52 - 02:55]

Very good, Scott, and thank you so much for having Me today.

Scott - [02:55 - 03:14]

I appreciate you joining. And I've been, I've had you in mind for probably since season one, cause I know we've gone back a couple of years. Wanted to have you on so happy to have you joining us. And yeah, I've heard that, it's slightly hot in Northern Europe. would love to hear a little bit more about, what's going on over there.

Jakob - [03:14 - 03:27]

Yeah. I'm sitting here in my, in my living room and I had to up the window and like maybe you'll hear a few traffic noises, because of that people like it's, it's really like a fucking Steve Bassett here.

Scott - [03:27 - 04:36]

So, unbelievable. I recorded an episode yesterday with somebody from Klaus who's now in Barcelona, but she listened to Sonja with the team last week and she was complaining even dystonia was also like 30 something degrees and everyone I've spoken to across Northern Europe has just been complaining significantly the last day of the week. So about the heat and the craziness over there. but usually the way we start each episode is with a non topic related, question. and as we were talking offline, you had mentioned, that you had recently gotten the team together. So finally, after a couple of years you had the first IRL. So maybe, but love to hear about that. And I think obviously super exciting. I know something that came across you in the pandemic, all this like obviously wrong ideas about remote work. There was a misconception of, oh, when you go remote, you never see anymore. Right. You just work from your house and like, there's this dark little cave. And nobody knew it exists in the real world anymore. Like you're totally become like a bot, but obviously you speak to any of us, who've been doing this long enough and we're all significant advocates, for, for getting people together. So, yeah, please let's, let's hear about, know how you got the team together and all the logistics and pieces and excitement and what you did and all that stuff.

Jakob - [04:36 - 05:40]

Yeah. Oh man, the logistics state, they, they, they, they, they still give me nightmares. but you're entirely right. Like, I mean, we we've been been billing for two years, so some of these people I've been working with two years, even more, some of them have been working with pre butter. So meeting with many of them for the first time last week, we had our first Butner and beat as it was called in Lisbon in Portugal last week. And we flew, I think it was 14 people along with seven spouses that we flew into Lisbon, and spent a good week, together, Which was also super special, Man. It was super special because you see that other side of people. and we made them, of course they one part of everything, but the other part of Sunday chunks and, and, and I think it was, it was absolutely amazing to see that too. and we had a few people, three people stuck in that they weren't able to get into to listen. So we made that second mini Potter meet in Dubai where we had like three people fly in their, rented their PD for them and like made all the events, online, via better. Of course, it was simply amazing. I was in awe of the people that I'm working to go with. This is very special.

Scott - [05:40 - 07:03]

That's incredible. I mean, I love the idea of bringing the spouses. I remember when the division did an IRL number of years ago that I went to, I think, I mean, they didn't fly spouses in probably because there was 109 hundred people or something at the time. So I'd probably be a little bit difficult to financially do do that, but they were very supportive in like cost covering costs of like babysitters and other kinds of help. I guess the spouse was kind of left at home, you know, to kind of get support and things like that. So I, I think, I mean, that's a super important thing for companies who are thinking and planning these IRLs right. You bring a person out where every door it's great. It's wonderful for them, but like if they're married, if they have kids like, okay, those things are still left back wherever they are. And there's an impact to that, right? If you have a couple of kids, I have four kids at home that when I went into her house and my wife was like, oh my God, when you come back, when you coming back. So to have an opportunity to kind of even support by giving, you know, covering like babies that are expenses, to be able to help, you know, somebody that's left back things, find it. And I absolutely love on top of that, the idea of doing a secondary one day due to covering those three people who couldn't make it into Lisbon for again, whatever reasons and not saying, okay, no, sorry, you couldn't make it. Or no. Maybe here is like some kind of gift or maybe we're kind of, no, we'll give you like a thousand bucks to go on like your own vacation, which I know some kind of bees have done similar, but the fact that you found the place to get those three people together, so they still have the opportunity to meet in person.

Scott - [07:03 - 07:17]

I think that's absolutely fantastic. So, so great job in, in doing that, I give a lot of, kudos to you and the team for organizing that, Logistically difficult, but yeah, I can imagine, I can imagine how many people were with the team now.

Jakob - [07:17 - 07:19]

we have 18 people.

Scott - [07:19 - 07:22]

Okay. Yes. Okay. Yeah. Amazing.

Jakob - [07:22 - 07:38]

so the way we start off, 11 countries or something like stretching from, I think, a Bali in Indonesia to the, to the east, to Vancouver in Canada, to the west. So extremely broad, also extremely proud in terms of time zones, which I'm sure we'll get more into Indeed.

Scott - [07:38 - 07:59]

Indeed. Yeah. So, so the way we start off is very easy. Kelsey, a little bit more about yourself. Tell us a little bit more at that butter again, I've known quite, quite much back you guys for, for a while. we've had many conversations a few years ago had been a user myself, with my team. So yeah. Softball question. Tell us a little bit more about Jacob, a little bit about, butter origin story, what you do, and then we'll, we'll dive into this topic.

Jakob - [07:59 - 09:11]

Sounds awesome. Yeah. So, so my background was initially in strategy consulting. I was in what's now Bain and company in the Nordics for close to four years. then got the opportunity to build a digital marketing company in Indonesia of all places. so went there in 2014, built it up to, I think we were close to 50 people in the team at times like Google L'Oreal Nestle, and then we sold it off to a, a Japanese entrance. and, yeah, I stuck around for, for another year in Asia. So, but then wanted to build something else with scalable. So left for Denmark in 2018, and started up a company, but in game streaming, why don't you kind of solve a discovery problem that people have, but small with content in that space, found some great people, including my now co-founders Chris and Adam, that, that we built out a product with center got quite a bit of users on. but there just wasn't enough traction and it turns out we weren't really solving every problem, which was a big learning for us. So we had to kind of turn the keys there in early 2020. and, but thought we had something great grow going, especially with, with Chris, Adam and myself, we had the team of the content, the headstart there, the hacker, the hustler, kind of the beautiful tree over there.

Scott - [09:11 - 09:14]

And you're moving something like that.

Jakob - [09:14 - 10:44]

yeah. So when you've got something special going, you don't just need each other. So, we, we wanted to build something together. Again, we built our previous company as a remote team because I guess, very much because of my experiences in, in Asia, we've been able to recruit from there. Plus Adam he's Malaysian but lives in Indonesia. So, so he'd been working remotely as well. and we thought there's something special going on there. And, and indeed there was because like a month after COVID struck and everyone was simply forced to work remotely. and we thought that we want to share our good experiences from, building our previous company and working remotely there, while discovering what kind of problem was, what kind of issues that these remote teams might have. so doing proper problem discovery as opposed to what we've done previously. Yeah, that was why we started doing trainings and workshops for teams and startups that have been pushed remotely by, by COVID, sharing our best practices. And it turned out that we were the ones who were having the difficulties in doing just that. So I'm a pretty experienced workshop facilitator. I've done it both in consultancy and in agency, but it was so difficult to do it remotely. and that was because of these two big reasons that'd be. So one thing was a technical overload that I faced as a facilitator or, because I had to handle all the different lanes like Miro Mentimeter, you know, sido and set those around upper breakouts, upper ports. It's just such a lot of stuff that I had to do. And the second thing was they were just inherently non engaging.

Jakob - [10:44 - 10:56]

It was so hard to get engagement and interactivity into these collaborative sessions. and we thought, Hey, we must be able to build something that's just inherently better for these, these types of sessions. That's what butter was born out of.

Scott - [10:56 - 11:53]

I'm missing. It always has to be a better option, this zoom, okay. It is terribly the worst, but, I, I'm happy to try to avoid using every, every opportunity I can to just go to this conversation. And again, we've had quite a number of conversations over the, the first two seasons of the show around a certain it's more focused like the debate between synchronicity Acer and is very much heavy focused on asynchronous side. So today I think we're going to kind of flip the switch a little bit and focus more on the synchronous. Obviously butter is a platform for synchronous meetings and obviously provides a lot more value and engagement and things, which you actually need when you have a synchronous meeting. so we're going to kind of focus on that today. So I think that the first question is, I'm assuming here, right? That since you're building a tool to make synchronous TA meetings more engaging, that your team is probably not fully async. so I'd love to hear a little bit more about how your team operates, itself.

Jakob - [11:53 - 13:29]

Yeah. So you, you said it very correctly, right? I mean, we're building better to solve the, as well as a platform for synchronous, collaborative sessions. So that's kind of the overall direction that we're taking. We attacking the most complex cities, synchronous collaborative sessions first, which are workshops, trainings, anything we have to structure them a lot of facilitate them heavily. So that's what we're building butter for. and I think, firstly, I'd like to say that async is incredibly powerful and it's been underestimated, by organizations previously many, many times. And, therefore I fully agree with the sentiment. I fully agree with your world sentiment in the remote community that companies need to become a more asynchronous. I do think that it's an overreaction. Like it's a reaction that comes because companies traditionally have just been so synchronous. So many meetings have been held for no reasons whatsoever. And therefore people begin talking very much in the other direction, but I do believe that the current discourse is very black and white. so it's like sync bad. Isn't good. And it's Just not as simple as that. so therefore, I, I mean, I still believe that synchronous is, is the best place to kind of have, collaborative and creative sessions. If, and you realize you yield much faster results and decisions also take much, much faster. Plus it is simply the best way to connect as human beings still. I mean, we were built a synchronous organisms if you're going to say that. but it is incredibly important that you do them correctly. And I do agree that a lot of companies have simply not been doing a synchronous sessions screen.

Scott - [13:29 - 14:11]

No, I, I completely agree. And, I definitely believe that there was so much push off, especially during the pandemic, when again, all these companies were in the office and moved remotely. And because I couldn't see you, I needed to, to kind of replicate that by doing a zoom stand up in the morning, zoom in the end and zoom fatigue and things like that. So the ideas of it's like so much overload because again, managers were afraid. They didn't know if you're doing anything, if they didn't see you. So they're like, okay, let's do all these zooms. And that, that became overwhelming. And then obviously the movement, the last like year, it was like asynchronous, asynchronous. Let's get the hell away from meeting on zoom calls all day. Just leave me alone. Let me get work done. Let me focus on that. It's been incredible. It's just, I can do stuff no, go away.

Jakob - [14:11 - 14:43]

Yeah, no, I totally hear there, Scott. I mean, and I think a lot of those things came because people were trying to, as you very correctly said, trying to just replicate the office one to one in, in, in, in a remote organization and that's like, you couldn't do it like this. There's both a lot of in-office, traditions that are just not useful, like the daily standup. and there's a lot of, there's, there's a lot of things you can't replicate one to one and should not replicate one when you're in the digital.

Scott - [14:43 - 16:01]

Yeah. so I want to break, I mean, you led her to a, kind of a great introduction of the use cases of having synchronous meetings. And I completely agree that two opportunities, obviously, number one, team building relationship building, right. That, that can't be done asynchronously that can't be done through slack. I've been a big believer in that for a, for 10 and a half years. The other cases is, collaboration and kind of those creative, meetings you have together. but I see, even in that case, you have like two separate collaborative type meetings, like brainstorming type meetings. You have one side where it's like, Hey, there is an issue going on. Like right now let's get people together to kind of brains. We don't know what the issue is. So I had done, I think it was early season two. we had, Jonathan, the CEO from nays and he had brought a kind of a great example that he had learned of, you know, the rocket, the monkey, and in the synchronous meetings were great for those things where, Hey, there's an issue. We don't know what the problem is. We don't know how to fix it. Let's kind of get the brains together and come up with a solution. So kind of on that side, we have, Hey, we have a problem now and we need to solve this problem like right now. So let's get the brains together, collaborate, brainstorm. Great. On the other side gain, you also have those brainstorming collaborative sessions where there is no direct action that's taken now. Right. We're just kind of throwing some ideas together. We're sharing some thoughts. Okay. Number taking that there were posts. Okay. Maybe there's a followup, whatever it is.

Scott - [16:01 - 17:11]

And for me, I believe that the second category should also be async. because can, you can kind of argue there's some research probably on both sides of that. People being able to kind of take the time to think through the problem and think kind of a proper solution creative solution go through like the feedback. I know, give the feedback and in a proper way. And also many cases like the person who's running the meeting, doesn't have, I'll call the right skills to make sure that everyone's engaged. Right. If you have 10 people, let's say even six people and in a meeting is every one of those six people having the same exact amount of time, the same exact opportunity to voice their feedback where you kind of have me fill out mouth extroverts. We, the one who kind of like jumping in all the time with like ideas and kind of taking over the meeting, you liked your introvert to just kind of sit in the back there and like not being engaged. So is your again collaborative? Yes. But do you feel even, maybe within the collaborative meetings, is there maybe some cases where synchronist is better, better obviously, and like, again, that monkey issue we need to solve the problem now and maybe less so, or again, it's still, there's still value, even if you're not going to take a decision right now just to kind of get the brains together and get some ideas flowing and then maybe after that ticket, like asynchronously.

Jakob - [17:11 - 18:43]

Yeah. I mean, I think, I think for the first, again, those two types of meetings, it's a great way of bucketing them. Scott and I very much agree with them. I think synchronous does a few things very well. That isn't as not like again, you mentioned the whole connecting with people, for sure. Right. I also think it helps you, especially when you've got video, and an audio audio, of course, but especially when you've got video, it helps you read cues, which builds as people that can read cues. And they are very important in collaboration. We are actually building better to help people express themselves even more, by using the power of digital to, to create more cues there. but at the second, the third point is that it is really quicker to brainstorm and build on each other's arguments. I would say for that second type that you say that you're, you're mentioning in terms of solving problems that not necessarily need an action right now, but that might be very complex as synchronous session does definitely have a place there, but it requires a, it requires a lot of pre-work. So it requires a lot of async work before the session. And a lot of async work after the session for it to be, a very okay say for it to be incorrect. So you can say, I mean, the pre-work before the session means that people need to have, information that puts everyone kind of on the same level. So you need to create the same level of baseline. You cannot have too much information as symmetry when you drop into the meeting pieces should not be an informational meeting. It should be a collaborative meeting, right?

Jakob - [18:43 - 20:13]

So it shouldn't be too much information download in the meeting itself. You should also have had a clear agenda and you have questions to prepare before the meeting takes place. So you have like, for instance, in our own internal butter strategy meetings, which would be one of those types of sessions, we always ask people to do prep work before the meetings takes place. There's a number of key questions. So we all come in prepared and are able to build on those different, angles of conversation in, in the meeting. Then the second part in terms of, like you mentioned this whole engaging prior to the loud mouth speaking up and all of that, we believe very much in what you said, the power of facilitation when it comes to remote collaborative sessions, such as these, and it is incredibly important. We believe that facilitation is becoming a skill that all people, all managers, project managers, even individual contributors that sometimes have to kind of take over meetings need to have a need to acquire because otherwise exactly what you're saying down well will happen. Yeah. I think the last point to add to this is that after the meeting takes place and a lot of async work needs to take place as well, because you need to pour all these various threads that you've kind of opened up during the meeting. You need to pull them together and, and into one kind of, consolidated package of consolidated thinking so that the threads stoled, don't all spread out and they're kind of pulling the threads together is probably done better. Async but weaving those threads out is better than sick if that kind of makes sense.

Scott - [20:13 - 21:03]

Yeah, no, it definitely makes sense. you kind of had a couple of points in there. I think that opened up another question that I have it's, a number of us again, remote leaders over the years, and certainly recently have been talking about no, when you went to have sync meetings and we'd have sync meetings and kind of organization structure around that. So wanting to kind of pull your thoughts. No. If a team does do synchronous meetings, like, should there be very clear guidelines on when you need a synchronous meeting versus an asynchronous meeting, why you need to have it versus not. and also I think another thing on the back end it's like, should there be the ability for recipients to opt out? and if there are like those guidelines for creating a meeting organized meeting and for opting in or opting out, like, what do you think those rules or those guidelines should look like? Yeah.

Jakob - [21:03 - 22:48]

I think a lot of it actually relates to what I mentioned before with the pre-work right. if, if you're not able to set up like the whole no agenda and no attend there, right. I mean, it there's a truth to that, right. I mean, there's lots of these kinds of things. So, so, so being able to set up an agenda, being able to set up to your outcomes, to the meetings, being able to allow people to do the prep work for the meetings, all of these things are, I believe, we'll see basis for having a, a is a crispy. So if you're not able to set up a clear agenda, if you're not able to allow people to prepare themselves, then then it's it's, it's, it, it doesn't necessarily, it doesn't necessarily warrant a asynchronous session. I do believe that there are exceptions to this, like sometimes quick problem solving, like the, the, the, the monkey in the rock you called it. I, I love that. like then, but then you're not, I mean, we often use stack huddles for, for those problems, quick problem solving on the spot, Hey, there's an issue we need to get in. Let's solve it. Then you can, then you can, of course do without the agenda and the law of the pre-work. But, but aside from that, I do believe that that, that, that these things are, are necessary, the allowing people to, to, to, to, to kind of opt out. Yeah, Yeah, Sure. But that's like a, I think that's a symptomatic solution to a, a larger problem. Right. I mean, allowing people to out other meetings, if they don't think that there is an agenda or they don't think it's, it kind of fulfills a certain number of criteria, that's like, that's a way of, of, of the organization reacting to a more towards a more systemic problem, for Sure. Jakob - [22:48 - 23:05]

I mean, so I would say like, overall, just spend a sick time on what async does best sort of informational processes, slower thought processes, more Eva thoughts and sync on what sync does best. So brainstorming and creativity, connections decision-making.

Scott - [23:05 - 23:49]

Yeah. I, I love that. I think your points, especially around like the facilitator idea, synchronous meetings have gotten a bad rap officially, especially the last year, which I think they rightfully deserve because many of these meetings, especially historically have been informer info, informational a tongue twister today, which is, you can imagine this one person, me, I create a Google slide or a PowerPoint, and I read for 30 or 60 minutes word by word, by word, by word. And like, you all sit there and like, God, I could've just sent me this freaking document. Now it, or read it like five minutes, I would have sent you a feedback would have given you comments and all that. so how can an organizer make these meetings again, want to have to have synchrony synchronous meetings, more engaging and how this bugger actually helped with this?

Jakob - [23:49 - 25:33]

Yeah. I mean, I think at 100% correct, but the whole informational part, like I think most of the informational meetings we have in butter, either memos or looms. Right. so, so we, we, we use the async tools very much in terms of driving over, information. Some of the informational meetings are synchronous meetings for smaller groups of people, but then we record them and kind of distributed the, to the wider group. And that, and again, the informational part of those meetings are like, then the people that are in there often collaborate. and again, the whole thing comes to the ability to set up other the priority in setting up a lot of like again, the agenda and the outcomes, but setting up a lot of the abilities to interact and the, and, and knowing the outcomes to have interactive components in them. That means if you have an informational meeting sure. But into weave them with a pause, to have engagement with, you know, whiteboards to make quick decisions or to kind of assess where people are at. And again, that's where butter kind of comes in because we allow people to set up a full meeting agenda with an attached, a lot of tools in a various elements to that meeting. so you're able to interweave the informational elements with interactive elements, such as Paul's flashcards whiteboards, you name it. I also think one thing, one type of information on meetings, dad still make a lot of sense to do. Sync are, meetings where you want to bump up the energy of the organization. It's very hard to kind of bump up the energy and get people as excited when things are done. Async because you cannot feed off of each other's energy.

Jakob - [25:33 - 26:13]

And that's another thing that we've built butter for very much, right. We have a video tool, this graded music playlist, There's A lot of reactions that people can use with no big explosive reactions. Just kind of feed off each other's energy when you're celebrating big victories. Right. for instance, and all that stuff has just done so much better in sync than it's done, Now, But, but again, even with these like Fisher to kind of capture all of this and wrap it up nicely afterwards, in an async package, no, I love this point, especially about the energy, especially thinking through the zoom again, maybe a horrible experience there, you know, that opportunity like an all hands where maybe you close the big deal or did something like that.

Scott - [26:13 - 26:44]

Right. All of a sudden you click in the Rocky music in the background and you put like the playlist and all of a sudden, yeah, you get the energy, like going up and down and, you know, the, the, the emoji reactions, zoom, like by your little avatar, it's like versus yes, in butter. It's like it flashes on the screen and is bigger and it's more animated. And especially in zoom, right. If you're not one of the first of whatever, four or five people, you don't see it, but it in butter, like all the emojis come up and you have all that energy and action. So that's actually very interesting. I like that idea.

Jakob - [26:44 - 27:31]

I think just to, just to shock that, to that point, you're totally right, but this whole, like if you're not one of the first five people into them, then you're not seen. And I think one of the things that we actually can kind of try to do not explicitly, but implicitly in butter is to kind of democratize interactivity and engagement. Because even if you're off screen, we've thought a lot about how do we actions feel? How can you interact, even if you're not on the screen, how can you interact if you're not at the second page of the profile images, or if you don't have your video on, and there's just a lot of ways that you can, but yet where you can use digital to democratize this kind of interactivity, whereas zoom, and many of the legacy, softwares, they simply said, okay, we use video and audio as we do in real life with, you know, a cut off a part of the person and then, you know, that's it for interactivity, right? Yeah.

Scott - [27:31 - 28:13]

So now we're kind of feeding into that, the software that, yeah, I want you to, I'm going to pull that out and I want you to go much more in depth of the functionality, because one of the questions that, again, that I had coming off, like the facility rate facilitator idea, and what we spoke about before, it's like when you have these synchronous meetings, how does the facilitator ensure what's the best way to ensure that everyone has a voice. Everyone has the opportunity to be engaged and again, perfectly lining up. And again, where I want you to go in, in, in much more depth is how does butter that, but you can zoom. We know that doesn't do it, Google me. It doesn't do none of the tools do that. So how does butter again, make sure that those people who are off screen who are maybe the introverts can have much more of an opportunity to be engaged and to be more involved in the meeting itself?

Jakob - [28:13 - 29:51]

Yeah, I think a Firstie kind of taking to the role of the facilitator. And again, I really want to kind of also, make the idea as a facilitator, more broad because we are all facilitators in the remote world. And I think that's incredibly important to kind of note, and I think the role of the facilitator starts before the session even begins, right? With firstly with the designing the agenda, with designing all the outcomes, all the different, on different documents or, or kind of tools that you use during the session, but also very much in onboarding people to the session before the session takes place. And making sure you hear everyone's voice before, before the tape, the session takes place through, Paul's or pre-work or whatever, right? So you make sure that you kind of get everyone on the same level before the session takes place. And I think that's the first part of kind of democratizing the, the session and making sure that even the playing field during session, both for the introverts and for the extroverts, and, and again, butter allows for that through a lot of different ways of setting up the session, you able to preplan breakout, James will pre pan all the different tools, such as flashcards presentations, music, layers, everything that you'll be doing during the session. You able to set that up beforehand, even together with other facilitators that you might be facilitated session with during the session itself. I think it's incredibly important for the facilitator to not just be speaking to, to avoid right, sitting there with, you know, a PowerPoint presentation and sharing screen all the time. I think it's incredibly important to have a lot of dynamism in the session and switch between various tools or various ways of interactivity then allows for everyone to participate.

Jakob - [29:51 - 31:22]

And again, some of the simpler tools that people know what are like tools like polls, everyone knows what a pool is. a bit more advanced tools that people got into use to during the, during the pandemic has been whiteboards such as you're on your own. We even have our own butter whiteboard. and, and other ways such as, I mean, we've, we've created flashcards where people can kind of pin their location on a map or, but all of these ways of allow of, of having inclusive interactivity, where you encourage everyone to, to, to join. So one way that we've done that with butter is building a lot of different tools that create this kind of inclusive engagement and interactivity. The second part is, through the very way that we've designed things like, reactions that everyone can use all the time. And even if you're off screen, you see the reaction and see the image of the people that's written, the person that's reacting, but also, I'll speak to you for instance, that is it again, and it's ration on the hands up to that. We've seen a lot of other tools, but the way it works is that the first person that spoke always comes and then people line up in a cube as you'd expect, right. What That does. It makes the, the loud mounts such as you want To be, very aware that there's certain number of people waiting after you to speak. So you kind of self police. And secondly, it makes the, the introverts way more comfortable with just, I put myself in the queue. I know I'll get my time. I don't have to all the time think about, oh, when can I interject or whatever, or, so yeah, there's a lot of things to be built to kind of it's kind of level level the infectivity painful.

Scott - [31:22 - 32:45]

No, I, I love that. I love the idea of the Q and again, having the opportunity. Okay. I'm in the queue, it's not w is it going to be like a 20 seconds silence period where I can kind of jump it or put my hand up kind of quietly and hope that somebody picks on me, maybe kind of going back and trying to combining a lot of these points, but one of the ones that going to be mentioned about like the high energy, and especially maybe when you have like some good news and you put like the Rocky music in the background, I want to focus maybe on the very typical startup, all hands meeting, right? Whether it's monthly, whether it's biweekly, whatever the timeframe is. Again, most of the time these are informational, not every time. Do you have some like fantastic, amazing news where you're going to have the Rocky music pumping behind it. So is there again this case, like, is it maybe better to do them maybe mostly asynchronous again, when you don't have like a high energy thing opportunity you can, you could throw in there, or if you do them synchronous again, how new you spoken about a couple of points, especially maybe from like an all hands perspective where it could be in your case, like 18 people. In other cases, 50 people, a hundred people, hundreds of people who are watching this and how do you make those more engaging and participatory? again, when people are, especially if there's like a hundred people on there and you're just reading through a Google sheet and okay, put some polls, but it's more informational. Like, especially these days, right? The economy sucks. Everybody's laying off people.

Scott - [32:45 - 32:57]

Like it's not really a great news. So people is it really people are going to be excited to be sitting in a 60 minute?

Jakob - [32:57 - 33:19]

And it's, it's honestly something that would be very honest that we haven't cracked fully ourselves. And I also, think quite a lot about how do we use the all hands meetings, in the best possible way. and I mean, all hands meetings per default in a lot of settings, just, aren't very collaborative, then not collapsing sessions, right. If you look at how they were in, like in physical spring.

Jakob - [33:20 - 33:35]

And I think it's about understanding what kind of old hands you're doing. So, and a lot of the stuff will actually, like, we do not do a weekly all hands. We often, like, I think we often try to do a fortnight all hands, 30 minutes. So it's not, it's not a lot.

Scott - [33:35 - 33:37]

It's not terrible.

Jakob - [33:37 - 35:00]

I think it's not. I said judgment Scott. I, I think the first thing for me is just honestly, just seeing people's faces for working together with these people. There's just something about being in a synchronous session with people that you're working with even every now and then that feels good and where you can feel each other's energy and you're right. It does not need to be energy pumping, you know, oh, it doing it right. It could also be, empathetic energy. Like, Hey, look, we're in this together. It's going to be a rough, but Hey, let's stick it in. Right. And I'll let, let's start. Let's keep going. Right. So there's different types of energy. It's just positive energy. It's also, you know, energy, strength and empathy that you can, that you can kind of channel there, but that's it. The second part is the interactivity, you know, like what do we do for our all hands is it's very often we ask people to prepare a number of questions that we're then addressing in, in the old hands. we asked people to reflect on things and ask them to share, opening the old hands. and we also collaborate on a number of issues such as, you know, Hey, I'll say issues that we're facing now choose your top three. And then we do it live in, in, in, in the, in the old heads. But as I say, I don't think we've fully cracked it yet. I can feel there's something special about the energy of having people together, which still warrants these all hands. Sure. but they, they, they, they, they do need to kind of supersede the, the informational.

Scott - [35:00 - 36:33]

Yeah, no, I mean, I love the idea again, of the different types of energy that even when it's like not great news, but you're coming together a team again, like we can do this together. We can, you know, shoulder to shoulder, we're going to get through this. We're going to work hard, but can make it. So I liked that idea. Again, it doesn't always have to be no Rocky music and okay. We closed a million dollar deal or what have you. It's okay. There's other energy. There's other types of energy and getting together as a team and sharing that energy. I think I, I definitely take that idea. So we spoke about synchronous meetings. We've spoken about you contend about the pre-work that's done and kind of questions that are shared. So what does the ideal synchronous meeting look like? And again, I wanted like a deep dive, like stuff that's prepared ahead of time. How long ahead of time, how long it had time as a chair? What exactly shared ahead of time? Like during the meeting, what does engagement, all the things that during the meeting and post, right. I think that's probably one factor that many people don't think about, especially those leaders who are thinking, okay, when you do synchronous meetings, like for me, historically, I've always done. I set the very detailed agenda two days ahead of the meeting. I mentioned specific people. Here's what I'm expecting you out of this meeting. Like, I need your approval. I need your assignment, whatever, have you. And that's, that's great and wonderful, but very few people think, okay, now that the meeting's finished outside, I've been known to dues. Okay. Someone owns this specific task, like, especially in this cases, as you grow globally and you hire people all over the world, like you have people from Vancouver to Indonesia, it's never times going to work for everybody.

Scott - [36:33 - 36:51]

Right. So those are kind of the perfect times or asynchronous where like you do a good time. You're in central central Europe. Well, Vancouver is off Indonesia. So how do you engage and how do you involve those people who are on the other parts of the world and give them enough value from this increased meeting for Lisa, for them to be asynchronous?

Jakob - [36:51 - 38:19]

Yeah. So, well sort of good question. Scott, and it seems like a lot of the answers were already in your question, you're already doing a lot of the best practice stuff, right? I mean, I think again, the whole prep pre during post best structure, way to think about it, let's start out with the Creek. If you think about pre it's, basically in two big chunks. One thing is the meeting preparation from the side of the, being postal facilitator. The other is the pre-work for the participants in an onboarding to the meeting for the participants on the facilitator side, or host site. It's incredibly important to set up the agenda, set up all the various op be very clear on the outcomes of the meeting before it takes place, be clear about the participant roles, the tools that needs to be used, all of that stuff. So set up all of that. And that again, in terms of timeline, it depends on the complexity of the meeting can be anything from two, three weeks in advance. If you're running a really big say leadership workshop I'd could be a few days in advance or even a day in advance. If you're running just a small brainstorming about a very particular topic. The second part is the participant preparation onboarding, right? And that is the kind of go nail goes down to, giving people, giving participants clearer context to what the meeting is about could be, could be full agenda. But also just overall context is, is, is often, good enough to kind of give, prior to the session, giving people the necessary pre-work or the necessary these pre-information, that makes sure that everyone is on the same page before the session takes place.

Jakob - [38:19 - 39:52]

having people answered the questions that are necessary to kind of walk into the meeting. So pre-work is it's kind of split into prospectively, documents or getting people on the same informational side. And, pre-work in terms of thinking. So allowing people to think through the main questions that will be discussed in the session. So those two big chunks like pre-work facilitator and pre-work for suspense during the session itself. again, the most important thing is to utilize all of the stuff that has been been prepared. So make sure you use the agenda, make sure you've tracked towards the outcomes and the participant roles that you set up before the session takes place, and make sure that there's a clear facilitator. And I think that that's the absolutely most important point. Like the meeting owner does not necessarily need to be the facilitator for very often is, I'd say, make sure you have clear takeaways documented during session, make sure you engage all participants to the points that the roles kind of allow or define, right? You don't necessarily need to involve say the CTO in the go-to market. part of the meeting is such a thing as it takes, especially, But you Do need to kind of involve people on the relevant areas. and also by the way, make sure that only the people that need to have a role in the meeting attend, don't just invite people for informational reasons. You can always use those recordings and outcomes afterwards to kind of inform people, present as little as possible because like optimally, if you can do a meeting without presenting anything, then you've succeeded because that will, that mean that you've managed to onboard everyone, asynchronously correctly after the meeting. Jakob - [39:52 - 40:36]

I think this is one again as a previous consultant, that's one of my favorite bug bears. people simply don't think enough about the fact that this actually, for some reason, you have a meeting and a session and it needs to have an impact afterwards. so make sure that, that the takeaways are, of course clearly documented the outcomes are captured and make sure that you integrate these into workflows and that they are remembered and that they're followed upon on an ongoing basis. and again, I'm mentioning the, all of those, because this is exactly what we're building butter for. We're not just building us as a tool for the synchronous session itself. We know that the asynchronous components, both the pre-work and the post-work and integrating to workflows and stuff that need to have, which is, is, is, is what we're looking for.

Scott - [40:36 - 42:10]

I love that. I love that. I thank you for going in depth there. And I think there's a lot of great information. So the last question I have spoken about this again, in many times, I personally believe there's three types of robot competencies, right? Number one, we have the OG companies like the dualist and the buffers and the company, with those groups are the remote companies that launched pre pandemic, like butter, who were kind of doing remote the right way, right. They didn't, weren't forced to do it. They said, okay, we're going to do this before the pandemic ever hit great bucket. Number one, bucket, number two companies that pivoted to remote during the pandemic were like, yes, we're going, we're embracing all the best practices of the future of work. Maybe async by default, I'm putting quotes here, a new hiring globally four day work weeks and all those other things. And then we're a majority of remote companies kind of sit today's bucket. And we like to call bucket number three, are there, they went remote either because they were kind of forced to, or the believe, okay, this is the future, but they're still very stuck in many of those old office mentalities and ways of working. And I think again, the full calendar day of like synchronous meetings is probably like the prime example of, of what's kind of wrong with these type of groups here. So would love to hear your thoughts, especially building platform for useful and valuable synchronous meetings. So for managers who are still stuck in kind of like these old ways of working these office traditions, and are big fans of synchronous meetings, synchronous meetings and synchronous meetings, while the rest of their team are looking towards like a starkness and just like, let me work.

Scott - [42:10 - 42:41]

what's the best advice that you as a CEO, someone who's been doing remote work for a while, someone who's building a product for more valuable synchronous meetings, what's the best advice that you can give to these leaders into kind of dropping those traditions and how to start rethinking, how to organize the right meeting or thinking about when's the right time for a synchronous meeting. When's the right time for an asynchronous meeting. We'd love to hear your thoughts, because again, I think you have that experience across the board in different areas. And I think your thoughts would be extremely valuable here.

Jakob - [42:41 - 43:12]

Thanks. Thanks for believing. I was, God, I would help you otherwise, I guess I'm not the right person to do what I'm doing. firstly, I really like our buckets, like the OGs that, that the newcomers and the pivoters, I guess you can call them. I, I actually firsthand that. I think it's really interesting to kind of look at the LGS versus the newcomers. I'd actually put us more than the newcomer bucket and then LGBT, and, especially in terms of the types of people in the processes they built, they built very async the LGS and they're so heavy. Async say, advocates.

Scott - [43:12 - 43:13]


Jakob - [43:13 - 43:57]

I actually think that a lot that also shows the type of people they've attracted. And I think the OTE remote workers are a bit different than that then, you know the broader base of people, and I think that, that people have that are more async by default in terms of personality and prefer that have, have kind of gravitated towards those OTs. Whereas, and we just, we just cannot make everyone eat eating by default, which is, I think, a big, a big learning. I think the pivoters are like the new, the new, the companies that are now being pushed to at least embrace hybrid or the multiple choice. I also think there's something a very weird transition that we'll be seeing for 5, 10, 15 years, and a lot of mistakes will be made there. Oh, It's very interesting to follow.

Scott - [43:57 - 44:07]

We can do it all. And then we could do a whole, another episode about how terrible hybrid is, and eventually what, the only possibility thing that will work. Right.

Jakob - [44:07 - 45:19]

But, but that's for another episode later on in the season, so back to like what piece of advice I can give to managers that have been stuck in the old way set us, they say, yeah, do what you should have been doing for years, because I think so many people will say, oh yeah, they're very different than dough. You have to do a lot of different things and you'll learn this in school. Actually. I think remote is just a way of operating that forces you to do best practice across the Board. And It is very much the same thing for sync meetings. Like all the things that I've said throughout this episode are things that should be just as relevant for physical meetings as they are our fault for remote meetings. Be super aware of why you're calling them, be super aware of the walls. Just don't take people in that just need to be in the meeting for informational purposes. and, and so on and so forth, like the whole pre during post, just as relevant in, in the fiscal space as it is in, in the remote space. so picture, you know, why you have that meeting and, and terrible all the things that I mentioned, earlier in the episode.

Scott - [45:19 - 46:38]

Yeah. I think that's the big thing that kind of a remote leader should have been saying. I know, including myself, it's no remote is now where you work. It's not a type of work, or if it's basically where, where you work and the new kind of idea of the way, how you work is again, we'll call it asynchronous by default. And it's not good again, just throwing out meetings, but it's again, much more focused on deep work and results. And knowing when you need to have a synchronous meeting, you absolutely have that, but having those right guidelines and again, doing all those things that you said, the pre-work that during work after work. And I think that's where the next iteration, because for me so much of where the future of work is going to be honest, I think really is anchored in, relies on Async by default, right? The big thing. Now, again, you can't offer remote work as a carrot to entice anybody to work for you anymore. Right? It's a standard. So I've seen the least in the last six, 12 months. And like the next big thing is to become like the four day work week. Like lots of countries are trying and lots of startups are trying it, the only way four day work week works is by async by default, right? If you're sitting in like three, four hours of meetings every day, those four days, four days you're working, or even half of them, you'll never have time to get your work done. If you want to hire globally. Again, if you have people in Vancouver, you have people in Indonesia, culturally, is it really fair to have somebody on like 11 o'clock at night and like six o'clock in the morning?

Scott - [46:38 - 46:55]

Not really. and a lot of those pieces are kind of anchored on functioning and working as operational saying async by default, again, having synchronous meetings when you need to, and even those cases, again, having that mix, right? So not, not getting those people in Indonesia and Vancouver on the call at that time, but still kind of giving them the value.

Jakob - [46:55 - 47:55]

again, I can rant on this forever, but, But I think, I think you're onto something super interesting there, cause I don't, I think it's async by default, but I also think it's output and outcome focused it's input focused. And I actually think that that's where the hair, if I may, the four-day work week is a fallacy, because it's not about like, when you're saying four day work week, you'd still talk about input, right? I mean, you talk about when people should be working, you're giving them directors as to when they should be working. I don't think that matters. I think, yeah. I think remote does put a larger amount of responsibility on the individual for controlling their own time. And if they believe that they can do the same thing in four days, that they can, that they would normally five days through that, by all means, do that. If they need six days to do it well, then probably you might not be the right person for sure, but that's a different conversation. so there's just a lot of things about eating, weaving life and work better and more healthier into each other by, by, by putting a lot of responsibility or more responsibility on people's time, on the wrong shoulders as well while being very compassionate about this.

Scott - [47:55 - 49:16]

Absolutely. I think the biggest thing that we've learned through the pandemic was not over remote work. Everyone looks at remote, remote, remote. It was just something over here. It was really a quality of life, right? By not having to go to an office. We were able to spend more time doing the things we wanted to with the people we wanted to do open up like a myriad of different opportunities and ways of living and all the other kind of stuff that goes with it. And this whole thing is more about that quality of life. And finally flipping the switch from, living to work, to working to live, which finally, again, we're finally getting there, but from what I say it again, I think the four day work week is a great start towards getting the better quality of life, but it's not where we're going to end up. I think where we're ending up is exactly the point that you brought up it's work is based on contribution or again, a, of something beyond that, where we're going to the freelance model, right. That's how remote started. I remember at the beginning when 10 and a half years ago, when we were building envision, you couldn't have an, a job rec oh, nice to have remote work experience because we are like the third or fourth, all remote company, nobody existed back then. But the most successful people we hired were freelancers were used to not having somebody looking over their shoulder, advertising time, get stuff done. And where we're going, I think is back to that. Especially with like async by default it's, there's no more schedules. Like there's no more Monday for throttle. There's no more nine to five. Hey Jacob, I need this blog post launched by Wednesday at four o'clock Scott.

Scott - [49:16 - 50:32]

I need this bug fixed by Tuesday at 12 o'clock. What you would do between now. And then that's all up to you. You could do whatever it is. but I need that. And it's very much again, focus on contribution. and I think that's a beautiful thing where again, it's really going to give us the opportunity to really live the way we want to live and all those things like that. And it's exciting, you know, to kind of see, you could see it, like you could see it there in the future. And like we're, we're slowly coming to that and it's just like the baby step. Okay. Now, if we can shift companies towards like asynchronous by default, again, giving it a much more focus of, and that's what I tell my two teams that I run are asynchronous by default. And I keep telling them, and nobody's working in an asynchronous environment for many times. I know I got to fix my car and I got to go to this. Like, I'll come in early or come in late. I'm like, I don't care. Like don't, you know what you need to do, right? You need to do this, you can do that. But at that time, like do what you gotta do. Take care of your car and take care of your pet, go for a walk or, you know, spend some time with your spouse. Hey, go live your life so long as I get, or the company gets what we need by the time we need it. Hey, go for it. Like you don't need to come in and make up time and I mean, that's the old way of working, right? If I needed to leave early for a doctor's appointment at four o'clock, I'm going to come in at eight o'clock just so I still have like my, my nine hours or my eight hours. Scott - [50:32 - 50:35]

They're like, no, no, I want to do this.

Speaker: 2 - [50:35 - 50:37]

Oh, that's horrible.

Jakob - [50:37 - 50:42]

Am I not glad that that is not my life anymore?

Scott - [50:42 - 51:03]

Absolutely amazing. Jacob, thank you so much for the fantastic conversation and really enlightening everyone. Who's listening onto the, of synchronous meetings and when to use, how to use it in the right ways to do it. for people who want to learn and connect with you, learn more about butter and connect with butter. What's the best way to get ahold of you connect with you and connect with butter.

Jakob - [51:03 - 51:18]

on LinkedIn is probably the best possible way. feel free to check out a butter at the battery that us, which side up, and you can check out how that will help you off the synchronous sessions.

Scott - [51:18 - 51:50]

Amazing. So I'll put those in the show notes and again, yeah. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and experience. Again, I think the value, again, here was very much of being a remote company before the pandemic being a leader, building a tool for synchronous meetings, then make the values of kind of putting all those, be taking all those pieces in combination, kind of bringing them together. I think it was extremely valuable. So Jacob, again, thank you so much for joining today and for everyone listening, thank you so much. And until the next episode have a wonderful day.