Ramp, the modern corporate card and spend management company, uses writing-based approaches to facilitate honest feedback and challenge each other’s assumptions.
Early on at Ramp, it was clear that a lack of structure around meetings was negatively impacting efficiency. Megan Yen, Ramp’s VP Business & Revenue Operations, knew that processes around documentation would help, so she implemented new meeting norms including pre-reads, agendas, and meeting notes. As she points out, “In a startup, if you don’t write things down, you won’t remember.”
Megan also introduced the “silent meeting,” a bi-weekly gathering where Megan shares a document that contains issues with proposed solutions that team members have written throughout the week. For the first 10 minutes, everyone has the chance to read through and leave written feedback within the document, as well as vote on the proposed solutions they’d like to discuss as a team. When the 10 minutes are up, the team discusses the issues that have received the most votes.
“In a startup, if you don’t write things down, you won’t remember.”
This tactic has sped up problem-solving and saved time discussing issues. It’s also helped the team clarify their ideas and communicate them concisely through writing. As Megan explains, it’s “a good forcing function for people to think critically about the message they’re trying to convey.”
Another writing-based process that Megan implemented centers around the way feedback is documented and delivered. As she explains, the way feedback is given in a group setting is often biased, as people tend to adjust their response in reaction to what others have said. Megan’s solution is to hold monthly feedback sessions where she asks her team to write out their thoughts beforehand, and then when they reach each topic in the meeting, everyone pastes their feedback into a shared document simultaneously. They then discuss each person’s feedback and how they can use it to make improvements.
Delivering feedback this way has helped streamline the process and remove bias. Additionally, writing out feedback beforehand forces people to formulate their thoughts in a clear, structured way.