Effective communication is very important when running a remote-first team. We thought it would be fun to share the internal communication protocol at Tacen. Enjoy!

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Communications

Purpose of this document is to outline protocol for internal comms.

General

All communication should be brief, clear, and have a clear context.

STRIVE FOR WRITTEN COMMUNICATION

Writing for others clarify your own positions. Strive to write an actionable documents, share it, and arrive at an agreement.

STICK TO THIS FORMAT

In all communications, state WHAT, WHY, HOW in this format:

What: We should contact ABC Company, and get a Letter of Intent from them about using our API services. I would like to escalate it and follow up in a week.
Why: Because ABC company is looking for a service vendor, and I think the deal will net us $1 mil USD. I think it will be, based on reason here: <put link to doc>.
How: I have a contact, John Doe, in ABC company whom I knew from College. I'll contact him via email. See <redacted> for details.

What does this accomplish? A formatted and structured communication means we don't have to ask each other 20 questions to figure out what you are trying to say.

Leave in the What, Why, How title texts in the emails and docs. You need that for visual cues.

BE BRIEF

  • Err on the side of brevity.
  • Keep sentences short. Paragraphs should be no longer than 3 sentences max. Use spaces to separate different paragraphs and points.
  • Add separate headers to separate topics, if you are talking about different topics.

MAKE IT ACTIONABLE

Make sure there is a call to action that describes what should be done. All written comm should have it.

TIMEKEEPING

COMMIT TO TIME

Commit to time. Nothing we do in our personal life is so important that we can't commit to a precise time in the future.

  • If you cannot commit to time the same day, commit to immediate time in the future - Tomorrow.
  • If you cannot commit to time, say you cannot commit to time immediately. This is still not good.
  • Do not say, "sometime tomorrow," or "afternoon," or "around 1 PM." Commit to a time, and be precise. See next section.

BE PRECISE WITH TIME

  • Be precise with time: "at 1600 EST Saturday, 2019-10-05."
  • Get used to using military time: "1600 EST," not "4:00 PM Eastern."
  • Use YYYY-MM-DD time format whenever possible (exception for external people).
  • All time will be in US Eastern Timezone (until we have more people elsewhere).

Communication Rules

USE SAME COMM METHODS

<redacted>

MEETINGS

  • SET meeting agenda before meeting
  • COMMIT to time and show up
  • WRITE a document of your discussion point BEFORE the meeting and add it to meeting entry in <redacted>
  • READ all documents presented for that agenda at the start of the meeting (5-10 minutes to read)
  • DO NOT EXPAND the scope of meeting
  • KEEP meeting to agreed time and duration

EMAILS

CLEAR SUBJECT LINE

Use descriptive words in a subject.

Good: "2019-12 Monthly Revenue Projection"
Bad: "Revenue"
Good: "Biweekly Engineering Meeting Summary 2019-09-25"
Bad: "Meeting summary"

RE: MEANS REPLY

Never use "RE:" as to mean "Regarding." "RE" is used as "Reply to"

END THE EMAIL CHAIN

If the email discussion diverges from original discussion points, DO NOT keep replying to the email. Create a new email thread with NEW subject line.

End the email chain with: "Let's discuss this in a separate email thread."

CHATS

STATE THE AGENDA FIRST

In chat communications, state the agenda first:

Alice: "I want to talk about our strategic offering of API services. What do we have, and what we need to develop."
Alice: "This came to my mind because I was reading what we have vs. others and I think we are lacking in features X, Y, and Z."

Note how above format generally outlines WHAT and WHY.

KEEP CHATS SHORT

If this is a longer discussion, document your proposal, and then call for a meeting.

CONCLUDE WITH CLARITY

  • Conclude each chat conversation with an action plan.
  • Give an un-ambiguous affirmation of understanding, and if not, ask for clarification.
  • Plan on revisiting, and document the summary of discussion in the meeting notes

DO NOT LEAVE EACH OTHER HANGING

  • Give clear agreement or disagreement
  • Reiterate the summary of discussion, and cleanly end chat conversation
  • Again, commit to time and action

SUMMARIZE

Both parties must write the summary into <redacted> if discussion has a lot of stuff in it or both parties arrived at some action items.

VOICE

Voice and video are for two things:

  1. Pre-scheduled open ended discussion with time limit
  2. Clearly defined meeting with agenda

SAME RULES AS CHATS

See above

TRY TO DO VIDEO CHAT INSTEAD

Because we're all remote and we need to see each other's face.

SUMMARIZE

Add the notes immediately after the call into <redacted>.

<redacted>