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Secrets from a Facilitator: Planning an Effective Strategy Process: Understand Retreat Limitations

by | May 11, 2021 | Discoveries

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Understand retreat limitations

Experience has taught me that organizations typically expect more of their annual retreat than the day or weekend can deliver. Everyone comes into the day with high hopes for team cohesion, fresh insights, a breakthrough idea or two, and a detailed plan for the year ahead. Retreats are the perfect forum for some group activities and not for others.

  • Retreats are effective for brainstorming, raising issues, building cohesion, and getting a general sense of your team’s feelings and perspectives on issues. They can surface possibilities and confirm realizations.
  • Retreats are not ideal for making big decisions. The nature of group dynamics involves improvisation, the need to take the ideas offered and move them forward. Your group will fluctuate between diverging views and converging realizations. That natural give-and-take, and the real-time nature of groups of humans processing information in real-time, means your group will likely be less effective than you might assume.

Go into your retreat with a clear-eyed view of possible achievements and design a more comprehensive process to get you to success with follow-up tasks, plan drafts, and agreed-upon deadlines to complete the strategy process.

Consider your facilitator

A facilitator is a bit like a detective. We listen and look for clues. My goal is to ascertain whether my client’s desired outcomes are realistic and manage expectations to align with reality.

Making the most of your process begins with clarifying expectations. An experienced facilitator can help you determine what’s feasible and essential to accomplish during the retreat and the overall process.  

  • What are the achievements? Where did your team gain traction? What goals remain unfinished? 
  • What must you achieve this year? The last year was unprecedented, and this year is unusual too.

Given the new realities of post-pandemic growth, the right facilitator will make a big difference this year. Here’s to making the most of your retreat and planning process.

Do you need a facilitator for your next strategy retreat? Karla Raines is available to take on a few, select engagements in 2021. Click here for inquiries.


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