On Company Retreats

Company Retreats are ideal for groups of people from the same company working deeply on a complex issue, problem or challenge.

The Reason

While most companies are now adopting tactics to increase speed and time to market, depth is often lost. Solving hard, wicked problems in depth will  be the next competitive advantage. It now is hard to reach focus and clarity on a company level. But beyond that, the clarity emerging from a Retreat will be the first step in providing that same clarity to your company.

Hard problems in companies are questions like

  • What is the next thing to do in a tight market?
  • Which the next strategic shift? What will be our next focus?
  • How do we organise for getting the next big thing done?
  • What is the right level of innovation vs. core business?
  • What is the next business / tech architecture?
  • <insert your current hard challenge here>

Most companies answer these questions during regular, weekly or bi-weekly  meetings of 1-2 hours duration. Even two hours do not provide the depth to even scratch the surface of hard problems.

The next level is a one or two day off-site or workshop. In most cases, social events with lots of distraction are integrated – again leading to a lack of depth in thinking.

It is hard to get to focus, clarity and calmness in everyday business life. While the above formats are fine to coordinate a constant flow of standard business and solve smaller problems, real clarity and deep problems require different forms of collaboration: Enter The Retreat.

The Group Retreat for Companies

A Group Retreat is different from an Open Retreat in two ways:

  1. It collects a group of people from a company to collaborate.
  2. In nearly all cases, we will work on one predefined problem, that requires the depth of a 4 day retreat.

While the general approach is different, the Group Retreat will have a clearly defined topic. In preparation to The Retreat, the problem to be solved will be nailed down. We might enter The Retreat with a clearly framed problem statement, which might have taken a workshop in itself to be as precise as required.

Following the definition of the problem, the exact (diverse) group of people from your company to be part of The Retreat will be determined.

Also, I will carefully chose a location which will fit the depth of the problem.

As in the Open Retreat, our location will be remote, calm and as free of distraction as possible. Also, it will still be safe but challenging and the external conditions will impact the way we collaborate.

I will also take care that the location will not provide too much comfort. Details may differ: Will we cook together? Will we plan our free time together? How much free time do we have? How challenging will the things be that we do in our free time? Will we have client interaction or not at all?

What I Will Bring To The Table

I will personally take care of the preparation of The Retreat and personally lead the process towards a clear problem statement that will seed The Retreat.

And, as in an Open Retreat, I will be your host and arrange the location for The Retreat. I’ll let you participate in all my knowledge on Innovation, Product Work, Portfolio work, Strategy, Org Design, Facilitation of Groups and all my other experience from more than 25 years in the industry in my backpack.

I will arrange for The Retreat to have great food and materials that serves our purpose. (A some places, we might need to give a helping hand from time to time.)

I will guarantee that while this is not your typical “business” event and The Retreat being intense, we will make the experience of a very special place with a very special hospitality. We will feel taken care of!

For each Retreat, I will provide ideas and a rhythm for the days ahead that guarantees time, depth and distance. There will be just the right balance of time for yourself and in the group, as well as work, thinking and physical activities. That is my promise to you.

What You Should Bring To The Table

For this to work, I need your company to understand the need to invest in the time, depth and distance required to crush hard problems. I need your commitment to this format. I need your time and willingness to work different for a couple of days. You will see, while and because of being different it is also a lot of fun. I need you to be decoupled from your companies’ everyday life for the full course of those precious four days.

I need you to bring to The Retreat an open mind and the will to collaborate in a group. Your openness to sometimes intense (but never awkward) ways of facilitation and collaboration.

I need our tolerance towards the quirky ways of other people in small places. The Retreat may take place under conditions that are not business-like. We will get to know each other. That also means, we need to be tolerant.

How The Retreat works

The Retreat will be a four days excursion.

We will meet Tuesday morning. Somewhere remote. From there we will approach the location of The Retreat, where we will spend the next four days together. We will walk. Maybe hours. I will make sure that everyone of your team can do this. If someone can’t do it, I will make sure to get her/him to The Retreat differently, in a safe way.

We will walk (or any other physical approach) together, as a group, and arrive together at The Retreat. Once we arrive, we already shared our first activity and experience and that will already be impressive.

At The Retreat, we will arrange things for the remaining time. We will get to know the place. Then we will have our first work session, deciding upon the way we tackle the problem we brought to The Retreat. We will plan the first work sessions.

After that it will be a rhythm of work sessions, free time and activities. Humans have the need to work in group, to work alone and to be physically active. We will have it all – in just the right balance.

Together, we will think deeply and come to results, conclusions, impressions, clarity. We will start with fuzzy insights and get to ever more clarity. Four days is a lot of time for a clearly framed problem in a group of diverse sharp thinkers and explorers without distraction. We will make sure that we document our insights in a way that the document in itself will provide a certain level of clarity.

But more than that, by sharing your stories from The Retreat and  your thinking on all possible questions from many directions you will provide the necessary clarity and context to your company at home. Maybe you can do an exhibition form the work artefacts we came up with?

After all the time spent together, on Friday afternoon, we will descend the way we approached The Retreat. We will walk home. We will finally part ways and we will feel the void. Do you remember those travels where you said good bye and felt sad because of the good bye? And grateful for the experience at the same time? This is what we want to accomplish.

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