8 ways to transform our meetings

(If you enjoy this email, be awesome and forward to a friend!)

If we can transform our meetings, our meetings can transform us, our communities, and the world.

Once a year, we host our annual xchange Community Design Summit.

The summit sells out every year, many months in advance.
Folks who’ve never attended, often wonder how, or why.

This email is a peak behind the curtain. We just hosted this year’s summit a few weeks ago.

Here’s 8 interesting things about our annual, 2.5 day, in person community summit:

1) There are zero speakers

, zero slides, and zero complaints about the absence of either. Yet over 2.5 days, over 40 times, the participants’ voices speak into the microphones, and into the room, but always through the organic crowd-sourcing of ideas, solutions, and asks of the community.

2) Night one is our opening ceremony

involving live music, a collective thanksgiving address, and a curated dinner experience, around 48 inch round tables (not 60 or 72 inches). The centerpiece of the ceremony involves 90 participants breaking into small teams, and each team creating a visual piece of art, symbolizing our shared purpose for the summit.

3) Optional

yoga, cold plunges, breathwork, meditation, singing, dancing, costume karaoke, and various other activities that invite the whole person… are always optional. In fact, every second of the entire summit is optional. Freedom of choice liberates. And yes, the space to play is intense. Can you imagine how it sets the tone for equally intense learning, collaboration, and transformation?

4) We sit in circles.

Even with 100+ participants in the room. We sit in a large circle, move into smaller circles, and in and out of many different group configurations. But the focus is always on “all eyes, seeing into all eyes”. When we weave the sacred geometry of a room, through constant choreographed opportunities to connect, something special unfolds. We don’t demand, require, or promise “equality”, or “inclusion”… we design for it.

5) There are no ground rules

, agreements, or encouragements to put away cell phones, to be present, or to be anything else for that matter. And yet, you won’t see anybody being anything other than fully present, for 2.5 days. The way we design for participation… demands the purest of presence. The healthiest meeting cultures arise, not through command, control or coercion. But through the structure of the meeting design. The structure of the questions we ask, and the conversations we have. Culture follows structure. And no, we don’t ever tell people, “this is a safe space”. Again, we design for it. We facilitate it. And are told, the depth of real human connection, is like nothing folks experience elsewhere.

6) Tables out. Trees in.

Very few things squash the energy of a gathering, like a bunch of tables will. And very few things will elevate the energy of a gathering, like filling the room with nature. Our budget for plants, trees, and flowers, continues to grow. We solve for the tables by creatively designing “cubby” spaces around the room, with every participant having their own dedicated space, labeled with their name, to put their stuff.

7) Every face

, of every participant, is on every name tag. Every face,of every participant, is on our welcome posters. Every dinner seating, for every participant, is carefully curated by our team, to create new combinations of strengths, based on hundreds of questions answered on pre-summit intake forms. Everything we do at our summit, centers around the participant. This is the difference between ego-centric and eco-centric design principles.

8) An entire day of design.

The final day of the summit, is what we call Design Day. Participants get to bring their biggest challenge, opportunity, aspiration.. Whatever they want, into the room. Using design thinking principles, and converting the entire room into a “design studio” – participants go beyond thinking, to designing. And for the second half of the day, they get to collaborate, give and receive feedback, and become peer coaches to each other. Creative sparks of genius, solutions to problems they’ve been wrestling with for months, profound visions of new possibilities, new collaborative business partnerships… all a result of Design Day.

Okay, if you’ve read this far… I’m gonna reward you with a GIVE:

Would you like to see a video, where I walk you through a photographic journal of the summit that I just described?

If enough people say yes, I’ll shoot the video in the next couple of days.

Reply to this email with “show me the summit!”, and anything else you want to tell me, and I’ll pop it your way.

Finally, we are moving the summit to a larger venue next year, to accommodate the demand. That said, over half the seats are already accounted for, when this year’s attendees bought up nearly 100 tickets.

Keep an eye out, we’ll probably open up a round of tickets to our email list, sometime early next year. Next year’s summit is October 8-10, if you want to mark your calendar.

Stay Curious,

Jon Berghoff

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