The Semco Style 5 Principles to transform the way we work
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Take it outside

Meet in unexpected places

Ways to combat stress, such as playing golf before a conference call or taking a break on the beach during inventory, are essential – Ricardo Semler

In a Nutshell


It is common practice in businesses to examine the need for meetings. Aside from analyzing the usefulness of meetings, thought should also be given to the logistical and administrative aspects of meetings. At the outset, it sounds irrelevant to business thinking. But, we forget those meeting participants, are after all, human. We are sensitive to the dynamics of space and their impact on the type of work we want to accomplish. Yes, offices are a place where work gets done, but it is also a constant source of distraction and interruptions.

Meetings also hardly take place in isolation from other factors. Sometimes, work pressure exists for certain employees; or, the entire business may be undergoing a tough time when synergies are not all that well aligned. It may seem like a logical solution to organize meetings at work to help leaders align and solve problems when fights and arguments over resources break out. Yet, it’s not.

Putting opposing individuals in a closed room can backfire as it creates a pressure cooker of negativity, stirring up trouble at a time when emotions are running high. Furthermore, there are certain associations with workspaces that relate to power and hierarchy, and they can be counterproductive during times of disagreement or high emotions. In such situations, it becomes a necessity to step-out from such an environment in order to have a very transparent, open dialogue that solves real problems.

This was a common practice at Semco, whenever they needed to have hard conversations. The typical reaction was to say, “Let’s go somewhere outside the office, where we can focus a 100% and be open to listening to the other person.” The outside venue could be a restaurant, a park or the beach – any place that was outside the regular work environment. Taking the meeting elsewhere ensures there will be no one passing by, asking questions or checking up about the status of another task or email. For a really productive meeting, consider switching off devices, like phones and emails, that take away the focus from finding a solution to the problem at hand.



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