We got tired of the bells and called the team to the metaverse. How was it? / Hebrew
I want to tell you how I started holding informal meetings with my team in the meta universe. On the one hand, this is an overview tour of meta-platforms with pictures, and on the other, it is the story of my development as a manager. We moved from KPIs and roadmaps to meanings and values, replacing the monologue of the Direct Line with an AMA (ask me anything) format inspired by the crypto community. At the end of the article, a video with an overview of the location.
When you’re just starting your career, salary is an important factor, but as you grow, you look at other aspects when choosing your next job. You need a place where you can realize yourself, learn something new or, even cooler, become part of a unicorn company 🦄
I still consider myself a Product Owner (product owner, or just a product), but as I move up the corporate ladder, I rarely manage to make a product myself. Although it recently came out when developing a strategy for the development of an Internet bank. I managed to shape the vision myself, invent the mechanics, work directly with the designers on a daily basis, but this is rather an exception. Now I am more of a HR manager and I understand that a team brings a tangible result. And in order to achieve super results, the guys must be burning with an idea and they must have the opportunity for self-realization, a road map and KPI are not enough.
You need to build human relationships with colleagues, and in addition to work meetings, we have informal meetings where we discuss everything that is important to the people, thanks to whom the company exists. And to add to the novelty, the team and I held two such meetings in the metaverse, the guys liked it. Everything went so well that the format went viral in our bank and neighbors began to adopt the experience and arrange similar meetings in their own. We even held a master class for this, because we did not have time to respond to the PM. In this article, we will discuss how modern technologies help us maintain a comfortable atmosphere in a distributed team.
A little about myself. Now I am developing an Internet bank for legal entities at Alfa-Bank, before that I launched a B2B ecosystem in Sberia (how it was, you can read on my blog), before banks I worked at VK (ex Mail. ru Group) and Yandex “, where he invented and launched “Yandex Disk”. I recently launched my author’s telegram channel, where I write about fintech, management, reflect on the topic of my eternal struggle between a hedonist and a connoisseur – in short, about everything that interests me today, subscribe!
What is the basis of everything?
I was lucky with my first hiring position, I started at Yandex, where I absorbed the work culture. It was like a campus of IT students, inside it was a cool renovation and Volozh and Segalovich were insanely cool.
I remember one meeting where Arkady Volozh (CEO of Yandex) said: “Let’s become the second in the world” – talking about the company’s development strategy. The founders and first employees were from science, it seems, nuclear physicists, and he spoke in the appropriate terms, comparing the company to an electron, which, if it took a place in the “orbit” next to the atom, it is incredibly difficult for him to get out of there. And if we take the second place in the world segment, then you will not remove us from there so easily. In addition, the second place in the world is much larger than the Russian market. He told it so well that you think: “Of course, Arkady, I am ready to work from morning to night.” And this story is not about KPI, but about something more, I liked it and remembered it.
When I came to Alfa, I got into a family team, where they address “you”, and in general, the situation is more like an IT company than a bank – there is no atmosphere of a state structure. Vertical communications are developed, any product can talk to management.
I didn’t fit in well. At first, many people said that I was “robotic” because I needed plans, reports and all kinds of KPIs. Back then, I already had a debriefing meeting format—the kind, very about work—where we discuss KPIs, metrics, launches, and so on. And I thought that I probably need something less formal to talk about, too.
Moreover, at face-to-face meetings with team members, we often speak for life, for meaning, without clerical discussions. And I have such conversations with my managers. It seemed to me that it would be appropriate to extend this format to all employees of our unit. After several such meetings, positive feedback began to reach me, and I realized that the format had worked. At first, I called these meetings formally – “Direct Line”. But this name carries some formality. In general, I wanted to make it as informal as possible.
I found the format of the AMA session (AMA — Ask Me Anything, ask me anything) interesting — the first time I saw this format in the crypto world. I really like the crypto industry in the sense that everything revolves around developers, how it develops quickly. In general, I thought, why not do this here. Its essence is to answer questions, that is, to speak not about what the speaker wants, but about what the audience is interested in.
After the first experiments with informal meetings, which were called “Direct Line”, it became clear that the question time was not being used. No one wants to publicly shout out a provocative question, so we decided to do it in a completely different way. First, the AMA format itself is a format where the speaker does not have an agenda, but only answers to questions from the audience. But to make it easier, our presenter collected these questions from the guys in advance, and this meeting was completely on the agenda of the team.
I wanted to do something special and interesting for the team. The idea came from the Crypto Narnia Telegram community, where I happened to witness a test of the Spatial meta universe. And unlike others, for example, decentraland, I liked it because there is an opportunity to display the presentation on the screen, that is, you can bring something from the real world there.
Scrum-masters reviewed all platforms in detail, and as a result chose Spatial – the communication parameters of this platform can be compared to zoom. It seemed to me that we would be able to do something interesting there and participation in such a format would not pass without a trace for the participants, it should be remembered. While everyone is discussing or has been discussing these metauniverses for a while, no one has used them, and such a good reason to use them is the perfect combo.
Our manager became the presenter, she organized everything, helped set up and became an interviewer – this is also an innovation for our format, where the speaker is not alone in his monologue, but works in connection with the presenter. And it also attracted scrum masters, who later became avatars – the platform has a limit on the number of simultaneous participants, so avatars were needed – we will analyze this point a little further.
We tried to make the process as simple as possible for all participants. And this is another reason why we chose Spatial, because you could enter without a crypto wallet and connect even from your phone.
We wanted the participants to be flooded with emotions, and we wanted to share this experience, because “don’t worry, we held a meeting in the metauniverse!”. In addition, it would be nice to add a fan during a normal working day, but to make it productive, and this time it was done very organically.
We were high
We prepared a presentation, gathered people and people liked it. Of course, the platform was buggy, but the fun was more than the glitches. Someone walked and explored the space, someone danced. There was a presence effect.
Although the space is virtual, it is perceived as physical — it seems that we are all in the same room.
The beauty of the metauniverse is that you can gather people who are far from each other in a single space. Although it is virtual, it is perceived as physical — it seems that we are in the same room. It was cool when the guys pressed the “clap” button at the end, the sounds overlapped each other and it sounded like real applause in the audience. One of the participants even shared that when she heard the sound of applause, she started clapping her hands in reality — that is, we can say that for a while the border between the virtual and the physical blurred for her. And so the first meeting ended.
More to come
The second meeting in this format was already cooler. We devoted more time to designing the location, made a large number of halls. There was the main hall where the AMA session was held.
There was also a separate hall where we displayed recommendations. That is, to look at the recommended book, you need to go as your character to another room, find the place where we uploaded the cover or the QR code that needs to be scanned, and so on. That is, we specially made this story more difficult so that the goal of the mechanic appeared.
I had a chair on the stage, and he was sitting in a virtual bathtub, and he was broadcasting from the bathroom.
And to make it really cool, I invited my friend Kirill Gurbanov, who is a great performer. I had a chair on the stage, and he was sitting in a virtual bathtub, and he was broadcasting from the bathroom.
I will tell a little about the technical component. We needed a platform with easy onboarding, and we chose a platform that wouldn’t require any additional equipment like virtual reality glasses or a powerful computer – everything had to work with a minimal set, for example, on a smartphone or in a browser window. The entry threshold should be minimal. And Spatial is just such an engine, it works from a browser, preferably Google Chrome.
The only technical limitation that reduced the convenience of this entire story is the limitation of the number of participants – no more than fifty. At the same time, about a hundred participants were planned. To solve this problem, we organized broadcasts on behalf of the scrum masters via Zoom, and if someone did not make it to the first fifty participants, then you could connect to the broadcast and watch everything through the eyes of these avatars.
Everyone can create a skin for themselves, paste their photo – it’s creepy, of course, but normal.
All in all, we’ve found a metaverse that anyone can dabble in. Spatial turned out to be a very successful solution. There, everyone can create a skin for themselves, paste their photo – it’s creepy, of course, but normal. From the first AMA session to the second, the engine learned to depict facial expressions, and when you spoke, the model’s mouth opened. And a round box appeared above your head, where there is a live stream from your webcam.
And as a result, we created a fijital experience for colleagues with a minimal entry threshold. Fidgital is a term that describes communications at the intersection of digital and physical spaces.
What did we gain, apart from the cool experience
The main thing, probably, is that it helped to create a case of interaction close to reality in space with many people. Metauniverse is a successful format that helps to gather distributed teams, and we have about a hundred of them, in one place and allows to find new ways of building horizontal connections.
Also, I really hope it helps us rock employee loyalty and engagement. The effect of such experiments is difficult to estimate in numbers, but we can see an indirect reflection in the eNPS metric, which is a metric that determines the willingness of employees to recommend the company as an employer. This is a good thermometer for assessing the dynamics of temperature changes in a large group, which allows you to understand: everything is normal or not. It is clear that the AMA session is one of the ways to increase employee loyalty. Of course, it’s impossible to accurately measure the effect of this format, but I hope that this immersion in the meta also contributed. Also, our company has a new tool that employees use to organize and conduct their meetings. That is, other departments started writing to us and asking to learn how to hold such meetings, and of course we shared our experience – the format became widespread. Various departments now hold meetings in the metaverse. And other teams have already started sharing their experience and telling how to solve some problems there, it’s cool. Of course, now I have to invent something new, for me the format of the metauniverse has been worked out. Maybe you need to move it to Apple Vision.
As promised, a small live with an overview of the location
Thank you for reading. The format is not an end in itself, it is just a form, and the main thing is the content. We did a recent AMA session on Zoom and it went great. By the way, I also have a format for communication in the Telegram channel – there I write about what worries me, share my thoughts and experiences. Subscribe for more interesting things ahead.