It is common for organisations to take people for an off-site retreat to consider issues of strategic importance. Common reasons for an offsite retreat include strategic planning retreat, strategy review retreat, budgeting retreat, new policy analysis retreat, board induction and teaming retreat, team-building retreat, among the many reasons. Regardless of the type of retreat, having a great agenda and the right people in the room is critical. But it is not enough. You need specific ground rules to allow for frank discussions and contribution from all members.
The common ground rules people state includes put your phones in silent, silent mode, as phones in vibration mode are always too loud, a silent mode or switching them off altogether is preferred. All answers are right. Follow the timetable. And of course, an engaging retreat not a preaching one.
But these ground rules are just basic. They are expected. Any serious team member must have the presence of mind to respect others. As a facilitator at over five different company retreats annually, I have found the following ground rules fantastic for a successful retreat.
- Feel free to speak up, all ideas matter. No one should be discouraged from raising their hands. After all, that is why they are in the room.
- Focus on the results, not the inputs. Why the retreat? What do you want to be achieved by the end of the retreat?
- Have the mind focus on establishing a hypothesis and testing them. For best results, make assumptions and internalize them.
- Start by defining the biggest challenges, then brainstorm on how to solve them, and agree on the next steps.
- Start with the most difficult topics or issues. Have the practice of addressing the tough subjects at the start of your retreat when all of you are still fresh and excited.
- Define the agenda and share all information the team needs to make informed decisions. That last thing you need is an information gap on the subject matter where some members are privy to information which other retreat members do not have.
- Do not be afraid to speak up your mind. State your views and ask genuine questions.
- Be frank in your conversations. Error in giving specific examples or case studies that relate to the challenges at hand.
- Always justify your responses or points. Give people the reasons for your answers. It shows your motivations and what you hold dear.
- Have a mind focus on the right thing for the interests of the business, not to impress the people in the room.
What do you think is missing from the above list?
Let me know.
Do you need a strategic retreat facilitator? Feel free to contact me.
Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, Mr Strategy 2021.