The Value of a Well Designed Strategic Off-site

Site of our Berlin Meeting
Site of our Berlin Meeting

A well-designed strategic off-site meeting can be an incredible way to focus your leadership team’s energy and increase your ability to hit your targets. Calling all your decision-makers together for a few days can solidify relationships, solve difficult problems, make course corrections and renew relationships. What’s not to like? 

Great strategic off-sites are conceptualized, planned, and designed well before they take place. The more effort you put into planning the event and designing the presentations and the exercises, the better the outcomes will be for you, the teams, and the organization. 

I always find that discussing the end result is a good place to start. Some valuable questions are:

  • What’s the purpose of this off-site?
  • What are the reasons for calling everyone together?
  • What can we achieve face-to-face that we find difficult to accomplish when we work together while we are apart? 
  • What’s urgent and important that we can align our talents and skills together and accomplish? 

Beyond these obvious questions, we can also use our time together to do some important and unusual work. For example, with all the leaders present, we can:

  • Get an accurate picture of the view from the leadership bridge. 
  • Set aside time to do an open succession planing process. 
  • Design ways to open feedback up across the leadership team. 
  • Work together to define common ground around the future we desire to build together. 
  • Take a hard look at what’s working and what’s not. 
  • Explore together where we should be making our bets. 
  • Set new norms for handling creative conflict. 

These days, we have incredible tools and designs for creating full participation, deep dialogue, self-awareness, feedback, and decision-making. Some that come to mind are: 

  • Electronic brainstorming, ranking, and prioritizing
  • Fishbowl exercises
  • Real Time Interviewing
  • The Impact Wheel
  • Structured Feedback 
  • Magnetic Hexagon Modeling
  • Future Storyboarding 
  • Executive Here and Now Sessions
  • Scenario Planning
  • Attribute Matrix for New Product Development
  • BCL Business Case Lite (disciplined critiques of new ideas)
  • Succession Planning – Bench Strength and Talent Acquisition
  • Brand Intention and Strategic Alignment – Leadership through culture.

There are skilled facilitators who know how to use the above tools, how to read group dynamics, how to help your team get the most from your off-site, and how to coach you through a great meeting. Use them. Leading and facilitating your own off site is similar to multi-tasking. You can convince yourself that you are doing well, but everyone else wishes you weren’t doing it on your own. Lead first by attending your own meeting. I am a highly trained and skilled facilitator, and I would love to help you create a valuable experience for your team. 

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