Let’s break it down,“Sync up” is basically a semi-casual business phrase used for talking about updating people on information. Sync up meeting means to have a meeting so everyone can catch up and is on the same page. We here at Philanthropy University do things a bit differently. We call it a “Sync up walking meeting”. In other words, most of our catch-ups take place “on foot” with the exception of the two key meetings we have on every Mondays (Weekly Sprint Planning) and Fridays (All Hands) where we rely on technology, ie.Trello, Zoom and the TV screen.
As much as we would like to be known in the EdTech industry for “We walk the walk and talk the talk”, to get there, literally the team walk and talk about things from OKRs to individual projects they are working on. When the weather is good on the outside, It is very common to bump into a teammate on 17th street in Oakland while I am on my sync with another. This is a top to bottom practice at Philanthropy University where even the CEO does his regular sync ups with the staff around the block. I have come to realize that so much planning can be achieved even from one of your walking Syncs. The productivity can increase even though I am not staring at my screen nor being at my desk.
I have never done a so-called walking sync in a professional setting before, where you take some of your planning meetings on foot. In fact, if I to do this in a regular company, the is a good chance that my leadership would not be happy to see me loitering in the streets while at work. I must admit, at first the concept was unnatural to me but now I am a staunch advocate of this healthy practice. Apart from getting your work done, the premium benefit associated with a walking sync is the health benefit. As much as an apple a day keeps you away from the doctor, a walking meeting too can keep you away from a cardiac arrest.
On the flip side, it has given me much clarity and expansive view of my work. While also being very much mindful that these syncs need to add value, Whether it is a structured or semi-structured sync, there are times these mid-day walks lead to conversations on spur-of-the-moment things about life, love, and art. All in all, Syncs serve as an outlet to “check in” on one another. It has broken down the office cubicle mentality to aid much improved interpersonal interactions.
Everyone at Philanthropy University can find few minutes in their workday to take a break outside our walking syncs. Those five, ten minutes would be a welcome break to your state of being. It is seen as a boost for your productivity than a derailment from your work. How many time have we struggled with an assignment we are trying to finish or an email you are thinking too hard to send but just seems unfinished. It is not always as easy putting those thoughts down on paper. That is the cue for you to take that walk. Go let some fresh air into the lungs, stretch your legs, have an eye to eye conversation with a coworker. This is food for the heart, mind, and soul.
Whilst being grateful for the leadership at Philanthropy University for cultivating such wonderful practices within the organization, If I have to offer you one tip, it would be to walk. Go grab a boba tea, take a walk around the block, and return with a fresh mind to whatever it is you are doing.