Intern 2021: Meeting Guide

Published 7/17/21


I am proud to announce that my design document has been released! If you are interested in giving it a look you can view the published version here. There have already been a lot of great comments from people on the forums. And pretty much all the design decisions have been resolved! The only major thing left is to decide on the format for stacks of blocks, which you can read about in more detail here.

Besides working on the design doc, I've also started building the JSO serializer, met a bunch of cool people at Google, and participated in a lot of fun activities!

Meeting Guide

Going into this past week, I had already lead two design meetings, and was about to lead a third. The first two had been... fine... but not great. Thinking back on them they felt a bit unfocused and I wasn't sure if I gained what I wanted from them.

As such, one of my intern hosts, Abby, suggested that leading the third meeting should be my focus for this week. In particular focusing on planning, redirecting, and closing the meeting.

This sounded great to me! The only problem was, I had no idea how to do that. I realized that I had just been letting these design meetings kind of wash over me, without consciously thinking about how best to run them.

So I took a walk, and gave it a little think. It was trying to think of a different way to frame meetings, when I realized running a meeting is a lot like running a game of DnD.

In DnD the Game Master's job is to give the players the context they need to play the game, have fun, and keep the adventure going. GMs have to come prepared with an outline of what's going to happen, but also be willing to improvise if something goes wrong.

To properly GM a game you need to have a flexible mindset, but also enough presence and forthought to redirect the game if necessary. And I realized that the same thing is true of a meeting.

So for my third design meeting, I came in with a game plan: time bounded discussion points, and a process for dealing with each one. But I also came ready to improvise and redirect if necessary.

Overall, I think this worked! The outline and process lead to a (mostly) focused discussion. And when it did get off track I was able to gently redirect people back to the plan. We ended up with decisions on two of the three discussion points, which I think is pretty good, but I'll have to wait for feedback from Abby to see if there's anywhere else I can improve =)