How to Build Cross-Functional Empathy When You’re Too Big to Fit in a Room and Don’t Need Another Meeting

Make things engaging and let the people closest to the work drive it

Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

The beginning

We started with four observations after listening to our product teams:

  • They were not clear on what was important to leaders
  • They rarely heard about customer impact after they shipped
  • They were no aware of all the projects that were happening
  • Individual contributors volunteered to share
  • Individual contributors inquired about future events
  • Attendees expressed learning new customer and business insights

The framework

Photo by Melanie Deziel on Unsplash

Backing up a little

We started by interviewing senior leaders and cross-functional product team members. We focused on the core product disciplines of Product, Engineering, Design, and Marketing.

We ran some small tests

After gathering insights and forming a hypothesis, we began to test the meeting and sharing solution by taking advantage of the places where teams were already behaving that way.

We listened and watched

We made the schedules visible and planted seeds with other teams in slack to see if people would make the space to join. We observed the uptake in this low-stakes offer and interviewed those that chose to attend a meeting that wasn’t directly part of their scope.

We pulled the trigger and hosted the event

We slowly expanded the visibility and noticed enough attendance that we decided to host a more formal event.

We iterated more based on feedback

Photo by Startaê Team on Unsplash

In Summary

It may have sounded like just a meeting to those on the outside, but it wasn’t.

Project leader. Product thinker. Write about human things. Find me at

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