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Creating a Company You Won’t Want to Murder With Your Bare Hands

Team Sunshine Performance Corporation

Team Sunshine Performance Corporation call themselves “An Unstoppable Force for Good.” Comprised of Benjamin Camp, Alex Torra, and Makoto Hirano, their super playful persona overlays a serious and thoughtful approach to theater work. Nick Stuccio chose to curate them for this week of content, in part, because every work they create contains a public practice component; the audience is uniquely present in every plan they make. Here they drop a juicy slice of wisdom in our laps: how to run a friendly and effective administrative meeting.

-Julius Ferraro, co-founder

Like snowflakes or fingerprints, every company runs administrative meetings their own way. Whether intentional or not, those meetings become a reflection of the company’s values. We try to bring thoughtfulness to the way we accomplish our work, artistic and administrative. Our meetings are no different, and have been iteratively designed over the years we’ve been working together, evolving with the company’s needs. At this point, they’re designed to keep us in communication, which makes a huge difference in the long term prospect of not killing each other.

We’ve learned from a few sources—other arts companies we’ve worked with, jobs at restaurants and colleges, and also from the style of Quaker business meetings. We’ve settled on meeting once per week. Less than that was never enough.

Each meeting has a clerk, a position that can rotate, but doesn’t have to. For us, the clerk serves as the convener of the meeting, the timekeeper, and the person who moves us through the agenda. By being explicit about this role, we remove the pressure and guilt from the process of getting off track and back on. The clerk doesn’t take notes either, so they can focus on the flow of the meeting.

Our meetings follow this format:

1. Confirm the agenda.
We use a single document for our agenda that everyone has access to. That way, if something comes up during the week it can be added easily, and we can refer to previous agendas to see what might have gotten pushed. Clarifying and confirming the agenda helps us realize what the highest priorities are, helps us see if there’s anything missing, and gives us a sense of what we need to decide before we leave.

2. Moment of Silence.
Before we start the meeting proper, we give a moment of stillness and silence. It serves as a buffer between the rhythm of living your life and the more collaborative rhythm of the meeting, and reminds us that we are all present and together. A deep breath, before the work begins.

3. What’s News?
You know how everyone just likes to catch up a little before meetings start (and sometimes during)? We stopped fighting it. We take turns letting the others know what’s going on in our lives. This might be one of the most important things we’ve discovered in the last couple years.

When we don’t have meetings, our work suffers, and it isn’t because we’re not talking about the work—it’s because the connection frays, and communication gets harder. This sharing never feels like we’re wasting time, although it can be hard to end it and move on.

4. Projects, Events, Development, Other
We list out each of our projects on every agenda, even if there are no items. They stay in our consciousness that way. Each meeting addresses Development, and we write in the upcoming deadlines. Anything we can do to stay in front of those deadlines helps.

5. “For Newsfeed”, and “For Next Meeting”
We end our meetings by noting interesting things that could go up on our website, and writing down the items that we didn’t get to or that will be more relevant next time.

6. Closing Silence
In can sometimes be hard to tell when a meeting really ends. By taking another breath—of gratitude, of relief, of readiness, whatever you like—we wrap up the logistical and emotional components of collaborating. Then someone pays for the coffee, and we go off into the world.

By structuring our meetings this way, we maintain our friendships while making space for efficient decision making. By being clear about roles and rhythm for something as commonplace as an administrative meeting, stress goes down and joy goes up. If we’re still a company in 40 years, it will be partially because of the art, and partially because we look forward to working together, even in administrative meetings.

Photo by Elena Camp

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