Levels is a remote-first team, which makes effective communication all the more important. We emphasize writing and long-form thought over meetings and powerpoint slides. In short, we're a memo culture, not a meeting culture. We should strive to be asynchronous-first whenever possible.
At your typical company, the way you collaborate on things is by setting up a meeting. Oftentimes these meetings have no agenda set out beforehand and there are no notes taken. This might feel like lower overhead, but it causes a lot of pain for everyone else at the company who can't share the context that was generated during the meeting.
In this document we'll go through some of the ways we solve this problem at Levels and some best practices we've found that help the company run smoothly and improve collaboration.
We've found that the best way to collaborate on ideas is to write out one's ideas in long form — typically a Notion Page — then send the documents to the relevant team members to add their thoughts. See the documents below as examples, or some of the documents linked here:
Levels Company Strategy - June 2020
Memos should be the default for all collaborative work done at Levels, as it allows for a more scalable way to exchange ideas to existing team members as well as future team members.
In general, it's best to add those thoughts in a new section at the end under a new heading like this (if you're not familiar with Notion page formatting shortcuts, you can type
space to create a new Heading 1) to make it easier for multiple people to collaborate at the same time, though in some cases, using track changes is a better approach. Use your judgment.
If you have ideas, try to make sure you write them in a new section within the body of the document. Assume that all comments are temporary and will be dismissed by the author of the document, so if you want your ideas to persist, the best place to put them is in a new section at the bottom of the document.
Once the relevant stakeholders have written down their thoughts, they can be incorporated back into the body of the document from the author of the memo. This process makes collaboration easier, as it allows everyone to share their ideas without confusing the message of the initial memo being distributed.
As a best practice, please do not use comments for long-form thought. Assume that anything written in a comment will be "resolved" and therefore removed. If you have an idea or thought that you'd like to stay in the document, please add it to an "<your name> thoughts" section at the end of the document as described above.
The reason for this best practice is that comments are visually displayed in the margins and are hard to follow, and it mixes ephemeral thoughts (i.e. things that are meant to be resolved, like a notification to bring someone's attention to something) with important thoughts that should not be deleted.
Assume that comments will be resolved (i.e. deleted) within a week. They should be used for points of clarification, notifications, and other small changes. Not for introducing new ideas or for discussion.
For more information on how to write good memos, check out this document:
We actively try to avoid meetings (with the exception of 1 on 1s One on One (1:1) Meeting Best Practices), especially recurring meetings.
That said, there are times when meetings are useful and need to happen. When you do set up a meeting, you should consider: