Anique is the VP of Product at Loom, a work communication tool that enables its millions of users to get a message across instantly shareable videos. Loom’s users work at best-in-class companies like Hubspot, Square, Uber, etc. At Loom, Anique oversees product strategy and development; beforehand she held product roles at TripActions and Uber. Anique joined the FirstMark Guilds to share how to leverage asynchronous video communication to gather both internal and external feedback.
The Importance of Clear Feedback in a Remote World
Especially in the age of remote work, it’s not unusual to have your calendar filled end-to-end with meetings. Before joining Loom, Anique would be in ten hours of meetings a day and then only have two hours at the end of the day to actually think. She found it particularly hard to communicate with her team and give/receive feedback. Asynchronous videos are the key that unlocked productivity for Anique. According to her, the superpower of asynchronous video communication is upwards, downwards and sideway feedback and alignment—fast.
- Create high-signal alignment: Soon after Anique joined Loom, she was tasked with making a decision that could impact the revenue of a new product and wanted to align with Loom’s CEO. In her previous role, the process to get in touch with him would’ve been contacting the CEO’s executive assistant and pulling the heads of design and engineering into a meeting that wouldn’t even happen for the next five or so days. Instead, she was able to create a quick scratch deck and send the CEO a Loom asking for his input. Within a few hours, they were aligned on a final decision.
- Make better quality decisions: Asynchronous videos unlock opportunities for collaboration with the ability to bring more stakeholders to the table, and therefore increase the overall quality of the decisions of your team. Anique gave the example of an instance where she had a 1:1 meeting with a colleague. He outlined a problem and solution he was solving, and she suggested that his engineering team could come up with a better, more creative solution that the one he had suggested. He created a Loom outlining the problem and dropped it in Slack; quickly, the entire engineering team was on the thread and Loom’s Head of Legal even weighed in on what solutions would work from a legal perspective.
- Memorialize the “Why”: Live, synchronous meetings don’t give the opportunity to refer back to the decision-making process. With asynchronous videos, it’s much easier to access past conversations and decisions that were made through the product development lifecycle. Anique sees this very clearly at Loom, as she can check engagement metrics on her Looms and see how often people rewatched them.
- Capture your company culture: Asynchronous videos are a great way to onboard new employees and help them experience the company’s brand, visuals, and culture. Individuals/teams can also bring their unique voices into asynchronous videos by adding music or mannerisms, building company camaraderie. Anique calls this “embracing the weird of your culture.”
How to Leverage Asynchronous Video in Your Company
- Report bugs: To report bugs, in a previous life, Anique would have to take several screenshots, create a JIRA ticket, and document all the factors of the issue (the date, where the issue is happening, etc.). This entire process could take up to thirty minutes, depending on the complexity of the issue. By leveraging asynchronous video, Anique can just take a Loom and put it into a JIRA ticket and all the relevant information is already embedded in the video. From both a speed and quality perspective, this is the fastest way to report a bug and the easiest way to understand a bug.
- Give rolling feedback: Rather than scheduling a thirty minute meeting to reach a decision that only realistically takes ten minutes, leveraging asynchronous videos allows you and your team to constantly think through the product and quickly align throughout the day/week. In Anique’s case, “I probably send a message like this three to four times a day, because it's super fast and it's efficient for my product managers.”
- Avoid last-minute meltdowns: The days leading up to a product launch can be the most stressful for a team and its executives. The key to avoiding “last-minute meltdowns” as Anique likes to call them, is maintaining constant communication throughout the development cycle, especially if it’s a high- leverage build or a high-risk build. Giving video messages for this use-case is especially effective because it allows your executives and CEO to feel and touch the product through the process and understand the data behind every decision.
- Summarize experiments and deep analyses: In her past role at Uber, Anique experienced a highly experimental culture—everything was tested. However, it would take forever to synthesize the learnings because she would have to dig up three to five past experiments, and then read through the lengthy analyses. At Loom, they have an experiment hub, where each experiment is connected to a video that voices over and summarizes the findings of the experiment; these are the videos that Anique refers back to the most often.
When to Keep Meetings on the Calendar
Anique very firmly believes that asynchronous video communication does not replace meetings, but also believes that there aren’t hard and fast rules for when synchronous meetings are needed. She actually holds product workshops twice a week that allows time for the team to intentional focus on a single topic and get direct feedback. While synchronous meetings have value, it’s very expensive time. Before synchronous meetings, Anique emphasizes the importance of sending in prep asynchronously so the discussion can have the highest value and be the most effective.
Improving internal feedback is a constant effort with a number of potential solutions. But getting it right can be the difference between a culture that flops and one that soars to become the next Pinterest or Shopify.