Culture

Tree meetings

March 16, 2021
Edo Sadikovic
Re-thinking meetings (but only if you really, really need to have one)

Tree meetings are when you climb a tree with your team to have a meeting. 


A tree meeting immediately gives you a new perspective, unusual for the meetings. A new perspective can bring you unexpected results.


Trees are uncomfortable, so you meet for a shorter time. Shorter meetings are better. 


Better than a shorter meeting is no meeting at all. 


How about your last three meetings? Couldn’t some of them just be a Whatsapp message or an email?

A tree, however, is not the most inclusive place to meet. It is not for everyone to climb a tree. But trees can be a metaphor for how to work your meetings differently: 


Mushroom meetings


It may help to think better just by walking in the forest (or in the park) during a meeting. 


As an example, if we really need to meet we “request politely” an audio call only (telephone call, WhatsApp audio, Zoom audio, without camera call...) so we can walk in nature and talk.


Occasionally, we even show our face for a short minute on camera, then move on.

When you do only audio call, you can even simultaneously do simple tasks (light a fire for a BBQ, organise books in your library, paint, cook, or anything else that doesn't require thinking). Like this, you are focused on your conversation while getting another task done.


Sende is even mapping out meeting routes for anyone who comes to try them.

 

For example, there is a mushroom foraging (picking) track in our village in Galicia, which is a 2km flat road in a deep forest with an excellent 4G connection.


This means that you can be out in the wilderness discussing artificial intelligence technology while a scared deer looks at you from a safe distance.

There will be reminders in our coworking spaces to switch Zoom calls for Walks-in-the-nature calls.


Example of the reminder on the Sende’s desk:
“Today you can take a call on the Mushroom path”.

In Sende Portugal (our new location), we are mapping one inside-the-property path. 


You can make long phone calls while slaloming among the trees without worrying that the neighbours will interrupt you. 


Also here in Portugal there are many low trees, which can be climbed. In other spaces you have to book a meeting room. Here you can “book” a tree (for free of course). 


A face-to-face walk meeting is much better than an online-walk-call-meeting (when you walk with team members and talk). 


We often suggest walking around our village (in Spain) in order to come up with a decision. 


We say, hey let’s discuss the next point in a slow walk around the village. Let's come to a conclusion before returning to the same spot.

Works like magic. 


Village pool meeting


One of the best conversational meetings is happening in our village pool. We discovered this “meeting place” by accident.

Our village has an Olympics size pool which is built for watering village gardens. However, mountain water is quite cold and we bought many colorful floaties (like water mattresses), so we can float for an hour on the water instead of getting “frozen” while swimming.



Through a bit of chance, we discovered that chatting while floating was so inspiring. We had soooo many good and memorable chats right there.



Then we thought, why don't we bring the teams to have meetings while floating on the water?

By now, more than 50 meetings were held there, even with “all-suits” companies. People just love it. And it works. 


I once heard a guy tell me in an Icelandic hot spring that the most important business meetings are usually held in pools such as these. 


Short meeting checklist:



1. Do you really, really need to have one?

You can start awarding points in your company.

The person who can resume the meeting through a short email (or message) without holding the meeting gets points.

 It is also a great brain exercise for clear thinking.

2. Can you decide to meet somewhere and walk it? And can you climb it? Can you meet somewhere and enjoy it at the same time? 


When you enjoy something, you create better results. 


By the way, Senda means path in Spanish. It's nothing to do with Sende. Until now. 


Tree illustration by: Ena
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Sende is a village home for people who work online, hidden in the Spanish mountains. 

“Offices” with a mountain view where you get to meet international people while cooking together. 

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