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The Nonsense Behind Semco’s Transformation

Meetings are the lifeblood of every organization but increasingly, there have been rousing battle cries to do away with meetings, which are considered a drain on resources and time. Yet, not all meetings are created equal.

Welcome to "Heavenly Beekeeping"!

Companies excel at setting multiple meetings when it concerns profits. Unfortunately, other important aspects of the business don’t get discussed properly although they have a direct bearing on how the business performs. Topics that focus on motivation, participation, and integration amongst people - all of which have a long-term impact on company performance - are overlooked because of the short-term focus on the bottom line or meeting shareholder interests.

The “Soft” Side Of Business Is Important Too

Getting these strategic policies right is especially important during critical junctures in the company. They require time, deep thought and a flow of ideas - luxuries that are unavailable to leaders when they’re taking care of day-to-day business. As knowledge is often concentrated in the hands of leaders, it is a good step to start these meetings within the company leadership.

These meetings are not only about designing programs and implementing them but also about reflecting on the principles and purposes that underpin these programs. Laying such a strong foundation of thought allows leaders to effectively implement initiatives, especially radical ones because it’s easier for employees to buy into great ideas that benefit them as well as the company.

Semco’s Tryst With Heavenly Beekeeping

When it debuted in Semco, these meetings left a lot of people puzzled. Participants wondered whether they were just musing on abstract things like the gender of angels - a Portuguese expression used to refer to discussions which seem pointless, as angels are technically genderless. People were trying hard to pinpoint what exactly they were discussing as these meetings sometimes devolved into philosophical, abstract and soft topics.

They started thinking of these meetings as “nonsense” discussions, and then in a tongue-in-cheek moment of inspiration, they decided to give it a name that meant nothing as well. They referred to these meetings as “Apicultura Celeste”, which when literally translated meant, “Heavenly Beekeeping”. 

Even though these meetings were so different from the structured business meetings, they were instrumental in creating a lot of the programs and initiatives that Semco is renown for today. From these discussions, values such as more flexibility and freedom at the workplace emerged and redefined the company’s priorities. These were the meetings that shaped Semco as it is today. 

The Better Things In Life Can’t Be Rushed

These type of meetings provide space for “focus time” which regular meetings cannot, thanks to the nature of their purpose and structure. If you are focusing on implementing a company-wide initiative, it also cannot be addressed sufficiently in a day-to-day meeting.

Abstract aspects of the business, such as company culture and engagement, typically require deeper thought and creativity to be stimulated - things that aren’t easy to find in the routine rush of operations.

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