Recently at @Close, we had been going in circles for several weeks on a tough Product/Engineering problem. After weeks of Zoom calls and async docs, it felt like we were going nowhere. We tried something different...
I flew 5 coworkers to join me in St. Augustine, FL and we spent 2 days together in-person on a "mini-retreat". We figured out something in 2 days that we hadn't in 6 weeks of zooms & async docs before that.
We came into the meetup with everyone having different ideas/opinion/perspectives – all valid and not easy to reconcile. We left with what I believe was not only a great plan, but more importantly – clear alignment on a shared vision that will shape Close for years to come.
Why I think this worked so well: 1. Forced exclusive focus on one problem. Especially in Eng Management / Design / PM roles, it's easy to have a lot of content switching. A meetup forced us to clear our calendars to exclusively focus on one problem for 3 days.
2. Communication bandwidth is higher in-person. Each hour meeting is more productive in-person. I don't like that this is true, but it just is.
3. Nonstop conversations. In one day, we talked about the problem (in a conference room + outside at lunch) for 9 hours straight. You can't book two 4-hour Zoom calls in 1 day. People would go crazy! Plus, more sporadic conversations at the Airbnb, a bar, Uber rides, meals etc.
Finally, like any in-person retreat, it's always nice to just see people face-to-face and have a little fun together. We walked around historic St. Augustine, did a tour of a distillery, checked out some great restaurants/bars, and played some shuffle board / darts together.